The Side Effects of Cetirizine

Updated February 12, 2018

Cetirizine hydrochloride is an antihistamine prescribed mainly for seasonal allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and scratchy eyes. It also can be used to treat hives. Sold in generic form and under the brand name Zyrtec, cetirizine has several possible side effects.


Although cetirizine is one of the newer antihistamines which is not as likely to cause drowsiness as earlier products, it still causes drowsiness in up to 13 per cent of people who take it, according to pre-approval clinical studies, as detailed by eMedTV.

Other Side Effects

Other side effects for adults in the clinical studies included fatigue, dry mouth, sore throat and dizziness. These only occurred in 2 to 6 per cent of participants.

Considerations with Children

Side effects for children taking cetirizine differed from adults. The most common side effect for children was headaches, in up to 14 per cent.

Other Side Effects in Children

Children in the pre-approval clinical studies also experienced sore throat, abdominal pain, coughing, diarrhoea, drowsiness and nosebleeds.

Serious Side Effects

Cetirizine can cause some serious, but rare, side effects. These include confusion, anxiety, wheezing, difficulty breathing, difficulty urinating, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat or an increase in liver enzymes.

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About the Author

Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.