The human body needs histamine — a chemical produced by immune cells — for several functions, including managing allergens, per WebMD . However, when histamine is released in excess, it can affect bodily processes and cause allergic reactions, per Healthline . In the case of allergies, histamine release is triggered by exposure to allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, per the Cleveland Clinic . When these allergens enter the body, immune cells release histamine. This causes a reaction that leads to allergy symptoms, such as itching, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. This is where antihistamines like hydroxyzine come into play.
Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine to relieve symptoms of allergies, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Antihistamines can also treat conditions, such as hives, insect bites, and hay fever. In addition to treating allergies, antihistamines are used to treat conditions like motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. This is because some antihistamines create a soothing effect that causes drowsiness, which makes them useful for treating these conditions. Although effective, like every other drug, antihistamines have side effects that anyone who takes them should know.
Side Effects Of Hydroxyzine
According to WebMD , hydroxyzine's most common side effects are drowsiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. These side effects can be especially pronounced in the elderly and children, says the Cleveland Clinic . In some cases, antihistamines like hydroxyzine can cause nausea, vomiting, and constipation, and people may also experience changes in appetite and weight gain.
Hydroxyzine can also have a sedative effect, causing drowsiness and dizziness, says the Cleveland Clinic . People taking hydroxyzine should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until they know how the medication affects them.
Less common side effects of hydroxyzine include rapid or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and difficulty breathing (via the Cleveland Clinic). In rare cases, hydroxyzine can cause a severe allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis , which can be life-threatening. People who experience symptoms, such as swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, difficulty breathing, or hives, should seek immediate medical attention.
What Else Should I Know About Hydroxyzine?
The recommended dosage of hydroxyzine varies depending on the condition being treated, the patient's age, and their health status. For adult patients, the typical starting dose of hydroxyzine for anxiety and tension is 25mg, taken three or four times daily, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence . Note that these are general guidelines — the appropriate hydroxyzine dosage for an individual may vary depending on their specific health needs and medical history. It's always best to follow your doctor's instructions when taking hydroxyzine due to the potential side effects and interactions with other medications.
Pregnant people should generally avoid taking hydroxyzine unless it is deemed necessary by a doctor, warns the Mayo Clinic . People taking hydroxyzine should inform their doctor if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. They should also be monitored for any potential side effects or complications.
According to a 2017 article published in the journal Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, hydroxyzine is classified as a pregnancy category C drug. This means that animal studies have demonstrated risks to the fetus, but there have not been adequate studies in humans.
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