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Tags: allergy

I have been suffering from a dust allergy for the past 13 years and am taking cetzine regularly. Is it harmful?

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The Answer

Cetirizine is one of the family of antihistamine medications. It’s one of the ‘non drowsy’ family – the early antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine (Piriton), are effective at reducing the side effects of a number of allergic conditions. However, their use was limited by their side effects – Piriton can cause significant drowsiness and needs to be taken several times a day. The newer antihistamines are known as the ‘non drowsy’ antihistamines – they include cetirizine, loratadine and desloratadine. They can still cause drowsiness in some people, but this tends to be much less of a problem. In addition, they only need to be taken once a day.

It’s important to be aware that all medications can cause problems for some patients – for instance, many tablets which are perfectly safe in healthy people should be avoided by women who are pregnant. Others should be used in lower doses or avoided in people who have liver or kidney problems. Still others are safe on their own but can interact with other medication, and obviously it’s important to stick to the recommended dose. However, lots of people who suffer with allergies such as asthma, eczema or hay fever do need to take antihistamines long term.

If you’re otherwise healthy and not pregnant, there is no reason to believe that continuing antihistamines for as long as you need them is dangerous.

Answered by Dr Sarah Jarvis.


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