Levocetirizine (Oral)

Overview

Levocetirizine belongs to a group of medicines known as antihistamines that work to prevent the action of naturally-occurring histamine in the body. It therefore relieves the symptoms of allergies, including hay fever and allergic skin conditions (hives). Histamine can trigger the body to sneeze and cause a runny nose, runny eyes, and itching in response to something the body considers a threat. It can also lead to the bronchial tubes (the air passages in the lungs) closing up, which can lead to breathing difficulties. Some patients are particularly affected by itchy skin conditions, such as hives.

Levocetirizine is only available on prescription from a qualified physician, and can be found in solution or as tablets. It may be more familiar under the US brand name Xyzal.

Conditions Treated

  • Mild to moderate allergies (including skin hives, runny nose and eyes, sneezing and itching)

Type Of Medicine

  • Oral antihistamine

Side Effects

All medicines come with the risk of causing unwanted side effects alongside their desired functions. Not all of these side effects may appear, but if they do they may require medical attention.

Patients who notice any of the following list of serious side effects should contact their physician as soon as possible:

  • Cough

Other side effects may appear which do not typically require medical attention. These side effects may retreat as the patient's body adapts to the effects of Levocetirizine over the course of treatment. Patients who are concerned about the duration or nature of their side effects should seek advice from their healthcare professional. A physician should be able to provide advice on ways to prevent or reduce side effects.

  • Muscle aches

Some patients may experience side effects that are not listed in this guide. Patients who notice other side effects should check with their physician to find out more. New side effects can also be reported to the FDA by dialling 1-800-FDA-1088.

Dosage

Patients should always take Levocetirizine exactly as directed by their physician or according to the instructions on the label. Patients should never take more of it, take it more often, or take it for a longer period of time than their physician advised. All of these can increase the risk of patients experiencing side effects.

Levocetirizine can be taken with or without food. If taken as the oral solution, it can be measured with an oral syringe, a medicine cup or a marked measuring spoon.

Doses will vary between patients, depending on the nature of their condition, their medical history, and the strength of the formulation prescribed. Patients should always follow the instructions given by their physician or detailed on the label. The following information indicates typical dosage instructions for Levocetirizine, but may not cover all potential doses. Patients who have been given other dosage instructions should always follow the directions of their doctor.

The amount of Levocetirizine will depend on the strength of the formulation. The number of doses, time allocated between doses and the total length of treatment will depend on the patient's specific medical condition.

Given as either an oral solution or tablets, a typical dose of Levocetirizine to treat hay fever or hives in adults and children over the age of 12 is 5 to 10mg once per day, to be taken in the evening. A physician may adjust the dose over the course of treatment as they review the patient's condition. Children aged between six and 11 years of age will typically be given 2.5mg (a half tablet) or 5ml once per day in the evening. Children aged between six months and five years of age will usually be given 1.25mg (a quarter tablet) or 2.5ml once per day in the evening. Any dosage in infants under the age of six months will be determined by a qualified physician.

If a patient misses a dose of Levocetirizine they should take it as soon as they remember. However, if it is nearly time for their next dose, they should skip the missed dose and wait for the next dose. Patients should be careful not to double dose.

Major drug interactions

Some medicines should never be used at the same time as they may cause serious interactions. Other medicines can be used together even if there is a risk of interactions appearing. Where this might be the case, a physician may choose to adjust the dose, timing or frequency of use of one or more of the medications to mitigate the risks. Patients should always tell their physician about any substances they are taking, including prescription and over the counter medicines, vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies.

Other medicines should not be used around the time of eating, or with certain types of food, as this may cause interactions. Using tobacco or alcohol products can also have an adverse effect on the patient when they are taking certain medicines. Patients who are concerned about diet or lifestyle factors should discuss these with their physician or pharmacist before starting treatment.

Patients who suffer from additional medical issues may also experience problems when taking Levocetirizine. Patients who have any other medical issues should fully inform their physician, particularly if they have a history of any of the following:

  • Kidney disease (which may require additional monitoring, as Levocetirizine may build up in the body because it is removed slower)

Warnings

Patients should carefully monitor their own condition while taking Levocetirizine. If their symptoms fail to improve after a few days of use, or they become worse, patients should check with their physician as soon as possible.

Levocetirizine may also cause some patients to become drowsy, dizzy, uncoordinated, or less alert than they would normally be. Patients should review their own condition and note any changes in vision and awareness before using machinery, driving, or doing anything else that would be dangerous if they become dizzy or were not as alert.

Levocetirizine will also increase the effects of central nervous system (CNS) depressants (substances that make patients less alert and more drowsy) and alcohol. CNS depressants include other antihistamines and specific medicines for treating hay fever and colds, tranquilizers, sedatives, prescription pain medications, sleeping medicines, narcotics, muscle relaxants, anesthetics, medicine for seizures, and some types of dental anesthetics. Patients should check with their physician or dentist before taking any of the above medicines while being treated with Levocetirizine.

Patients should always tell their physician about any previous allergic reactions to Levocetirizine, Certirizine, or any other ingredients used in Cetirizine tablet formulations. Patients should also tell their physician about other types of allergies, to other drugs, foods, or other substances, including preservatives and dyes. Patients should talk about the type of reaction they had, including any shortness of breath, cough, itching, rash, hives, and swelling of the throat, tongue, face or lips. A physician may choose to alter the prescription based on this information.

Patients should never take other medicines at the same time as Levocetirizine unless they have been checked and cleared by a physician. These include prescription and over the counter medicines, vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies.

While they are taking Levocetirizine, patients should tell all healthcare professionals they are in contact with about their prescription, including dentists, nurses, pharmacists and other doctors.

Patients who have kidney disease should make their condition clear to their physician before accepting any prescription for antihistamines. Female patients who are breastfeeding should also talk to their physician about weighing up the benefits against the risks of any harm to infants. Use in treating patients who are breastfeeding is not recommended.

Storage

As with many medicines, Levocetirizine should be stored at room temperature, firmly closed in its original packaging, away from moisture, direct sunlight and heat. Do not allow it to freeze.

Always store medicines out of the reach of children and vulnerable adults. Patients should never keep old medicines that are out of date or no longer needed. Patients with unwanted medicines should contact their physician or pharmacist for advice on using local take-back programs.

Summary

Levocetirizine belongs to a group of medicines known as antihistamines. They stop the action of histamine in the body to relieve the symptoms of mild to moderate allergies, including a runny nose, watery eyes, itchy eyes and sneezing. It is also commonly used to relieve itchy skin hives.

Levocetirizine, however, cannot preemptively work to prevent hives or treat a severe allergic reaction (such as anaphylactic shock). Patients who are known to be at risk of these severe allergic reactions should carry any prescribed epinephrine injectors with them at all times. Levocetirizine is not a replacement for epinephrine.

Patients should also tell their physician about all medications they are taking (including prescription and over the counter medicines, vitamins and herbal remedies) and their medical history of other issues. Patients should never start, stop or change their dose of Levocetirizine without first consulting their physician. Taking too much Levocetirizine can increase drowsiness, which could cause problems if patients are driving, operating machinery, or doing anything which requires them to be fully alert to be safe.

Patients should note how they are feeling while taking Levocetirizine and monitor their condition before attempting to drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that requires them to be fully alert to be safe. Levocetirizine makes some patients feel drowsy. Patients should also avoid drinking alcohol or taking any other substances which may make them sleepy or less coordinated, as this may increase the effects of Levocetirizine.