Atarax (Hydroxyzine)

Atarax (Hydroxyzine)

Atarax

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Active ingredient: Hydroxyzine

Dosage: 10mg, 25mg

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What is Hydroxyzine (Generic Atarax)?

Hydroxyzine, often known by its brand name Atarax, is a medication mainly used to treat itching caused by allergies. It’s also helpful in reducing anxiety and can be used to help you relax or sleep before surgery.

Here’s a simple breakdown of what it does and how it works:

  1. Relieves allergies: Hydroxyzine blocks a natural substance in your body called histamine that your body makes during an allergic reaction. This is why it helps stop itching and other allergic symptoms.
  2. Reduces anxiety: It has a calming effect on the brain, which can be helpful for people feeling anxious.
  3. Helps with sleep: Because of its calming effects, it is sometimes used to help people fall asleep, especially if they are anxious or undergoing a medical procedure.

Hydroxyzine comes in different forms, such as tablets, capsules, and a liquid that you drink. The way you take it can depend on what you’re using it for—whether it’s for allergies, anxiety, or to help you sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions about Atarax

What is Hydroxyzine Atarax used for?

Hydroxyzine (Atarax) is a versatile medication used for several different purposes. Here’s a simple look at what it’s commonly used for:

  1. Allergy Relief: It is often used to treat symptoms of allergies, like itching and rashes. It works by blocking histamine, a substance in the body that causes allergic symptoms.
  2. Anxiety and Tension: This medication can help manage anxiety. It has a calming effect on the brain, which helps reduce feelings of stress and nervousness.
  3. Sedation: Before medical procedures, it can be used to help relax and calm a person. It’s also used to help people fall asleep more easily.
  4. Nausea and Vomiting: Sometimes, it’s prescribed to help prevent nausea and vomiting.

What to expect when taking Atarax?

If you’re starting to take Atarax (Hydroxyzine), here’s what you can generally expect:

  1. Feeling Relaxed or Sleepy: It has a calming effect, so you might feel more relaxed or sleepy after taking it. This is normal, and it’s one of the reasons why it’s often taken at night, especially if it’s used to help with sleep.
  2. Reduction in Allergy Symptoms: If you’re taking Atarax for allergies, you should notice that symptoms like itching or hives start to decrease. This relief from symptoms can make you feel more comfortable.
  3. Dizziness or Dry Mouth: Some people experience side effects like dizziness or a dry mouth after taking this medicine. These are common side effects, and they may decrease as your body adjusts to the medication.

How should I take Atarax?

When you’re prescribed Atarax (hydroxyzine), your doctor will likely give you specific instructions tailored to your condition. Here’s what those recommendations might look like:

  1. Dosage: The dosage of Atarax you should take will depend on what you’re using it for. For example, for allergy relief, you might be advised to take 25 mg three or four times a day. For anxiety, your doctor might recommend a higher or lower dose based on how severe your symptoms are.
  2. When to Take It: This drug can cause drowsiness, so your doctor might suggest taking it at night, especially if you are using it to help you sleep. If you’re taking it multiple times a day for allergies or anxiety, you might be instructed to spread your doses throughout the day.
  3. With or Without Food: You can take this medication with or without food. If you experience stomach upset after taking it, try taking your next dose with a snack or a meal.
  4. Instructions for Use:
    • If you’re taking the tablet form, swallow it whole with a full glass of water.
    • If prescribed the liquid form, measure your dose carefully with the measuring spoon or cup provided by your pharmacist.
  5. Duration of Use: Your doctor will tell you how long to take Atarax. For temporary conditions like pre-surgery sedation, you might only need it for a day or two. For ongoing issues like allergies or anxiety, your treatment might be longer.
  6. Missed Doses: If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it’s nearly time for your next dose. In that case, just take the next dose at the regular time and skip the missed one. Don’t double up doses.
  7. Storage: Keep the pack in a cool, dry place away from direct light and moisture. Make sure the medication is stored where children and pets cannot reach it.

How much time does Atarax take to work?

When you take Atarax (hydroxyzine), the time it takes to start working can vary depending on what you’re using it for:

  1. For Allergy Symptoms: If you’re taking Atarax to relieve itching or other allergy symptoms, it usually starts to work within 15 to 30 minutes after taking it. You should feel significant relief from your symptoms fairly quickly.
  2. For Anxiety: When used to help manage anxiety, it can begin to take effect within about 30 to 60 minutes. The calming effect can help you feel more relaxed during this time.
  3. For Sedation: If this preparation is used to help you relax or sleep, especially before a medical procedure, it generally works within 30 to 60 minutes as well.

The duration of the effects can last between 4 to 6 hours, and in some cases, even longer. This will depend on the specific dose you’ve taken and your body’s response to the medication.

Is it safe to take Atarax every day?

It can be safe to take Atarax (hydroxyzine) every day for certain medical conditions, but this should always be under the guidance of a doctor. This medication is commonly prescribed for short-term use because long-term daily use might lead to side effects or diminished effectiveness over time. If your doctor has prescribed Atarax for daily use, they have likely considered that the benefits outweigh the risks in your specific case. Regular follow-up appointments can help manage any potential side effects and adjust treatment as necessary.

What are common side effects of Atarax (Hydroxyzine)?

When taking Atarax (hydroxyzine), some people may experience side effects. Here’s a straightforward list of the most common ones:

  1. Drowsiness: This is the most frequent side effect. You might feel more tired or sleepy than usual.
  2. Dry Mouth: You may notice that your mouth feels dry after taking this medication.
  3. Dizziness: Some people feel lightheaded or dizzy, especially when getting up too quickly from sitting or lying down.
  4. Headache: Occasionally, taking Atarax can lead to headaches.
  5. Blurred Vision: Your vision might become slightly blurred.
  6. Constipation: This medication can affect your digestive system, making bowel movements less frequent.

What not to do while on Hydroxyzine?

When using Hydroxyzine to manage allergy symptoms, there are important precautions to keep in mind to ensure safe and effective use of the medication:

  1. Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol can increase the sedative effects of the drug, making you excessively sleepy and increasing the risk of other side effects. It’s best to avoid alcohol completely while on this medication.
  2. Don’t Drive or Operate Machinery: It often causes drowsiness and can impair your reactions or judgment. Avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or performing any activities that require alertness until you are sure you can do so safely.
  3. Skip Other Sedatives: Be cautious about using other medications that can cause drowsiness, such as sleeping pills, certain pain relievers, and some allergy medications, unless they are specifically prescribed by your doctor.
  4. Manage Overheating and Dehydration: It can reduce your body’s ability to sweat, increasing the risk of overheating or dehydration, particularly in warm climates or when exercising. Make sure to stay hydrated and avoid excessive heat.
  5. Exercise Caution: If you experience dizziness or severe drowsiness while taking this medicine, be careful when engaging in activities that require coordination and focus.
  6. Consult Before Stopping: If you need to stop taking Hydroxyzine after using it regularly, talk to your doctor about the best way to gradually decrease your dosage to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Who should not take Atarax?

Atarax (hydroxyzine) is a helpful medication for many, but it’s not suitable for everyone. Here are some groups of people who should avoid taking the drug:

  1. Pregnant Women: It’s generally advised that pregnant women should not take Atarax, as it could potentially affect the unborn baby. Always check with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
  2. Breastfeeding Mothers: Hydroxyzine can pass into breast milk and might affect a nursing infant. If you’re breastfeeding, discuss with your doctor whether you should use this medication.
  3. People with Allergies to Hydroxyzine: If you’ve had an allergic reaction to hydroxyzine or any of its components in the past, you should not take it. Reactions might include itching, rashes, or more severe responses.
  4. People with Certain Health Conditions:
    • Glaucoma: Hydroxyzine can increase pressure in the eye, which is dangerous for people with glaucoma.
    • Heart Issues: Those with certain heart conditions, particularly those affecting the heart’s rhythm, should avoid this medication.
    • Kidney or Liver Disease: Hydroxyzine is processed in the liver and kidneys. If these organs aren’t working well, the drug could build up in your body and lead to more side effects.
  5. Older Adults: Elderly people may be more sensitive to the side effects of hydroxyzine, especially dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion, which could increase their risk of falls.
  6. People Taking Certain Medications: Atarax can interact with other drugs, particularly those that cause drowsiness or affect the heart. Always inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking to avoid harmful interactions.

Where to get more info about Atarax?

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Disclaimer

This document does not include all information about this medication and should not replace the medication guide, a consultation with a pharmacist, or advice from your healthcare provider. For the complete medication guide or additional questions, please contact your pharmacist.

by Emily A. Rosten, MD
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Peter Thura
Last Updated: June 25, 2024

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