Levocetirizine, also known by Xyzal, is a prescription antihistamine used to treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and hives that is going to become available over-the-counter in drug stores. Its function is to prevent the actions of histamine in the body, which produces itching, sneezing, congestion, runny nose and closing of the airways. Since it is new to the market, you may be wondering if it is more effective or safer than other antihistamine drugs. What is levocetirizine and should we switch to it for those harsh days?
This website tries to treat the root causes of allergies, while antihistamines only mask the symptoms of the true problem. While it is understandable that you would want to avoid using drugs, it would be unpractical to take advantage of them when you need them most in your life. Many people have demanding lives and cannot be sneezing and feeling groggy all day.
Therefore, it is wise to keep one of these antihistamine brands available for those emergency days.
Levocetirizine goes for almost $1 per dose in stores, which I think is ridiculous. This is where I get it online for 70% cheaper.
What is Levocetirizine?
Levocetirizine comes in the form of a pill and in a diluted solution, which is taken orally. It is bought under the brand name Xyzal and also as a generic drug. This drug can be used to treat the symptoms of seasonal and year-round allergy symptoms as well as treating the itching caused by hives. (1)
In severe allergy patients, levocetirizine will be used in a combination therapy with other drugs like steroids.
If you are reading this, you are probably the type of person like myself to prefer a more natural approach. However, some days are very detrimental to my allergy symptoms and I need a strong antihistamine to be productive throughout my day.
I usually keep an Allegra allergy medication on hand and I was considering switching to this new over-the-counter drug because antihistamines added to the free market usually get progressively better.
This time, however, it is not the case: levocetirizine is not a better antihistamine.
This is considered a “third-generation” non-sedative antihistamine derived from the second-generation cetirizine. As a chemical, levoceterizine is the active enantiomer of cetirizine. An enantiomer is a compound with the exact same makeup of atoms, but in a different mirrored arrangement.
So, levocetirizine is exactly the same as cetirizine chemically, but slightly different just in the same way that your left hand is different from your right hand.
If you take this drug, it will prevent the release of inflammatory allergy chemicals that are produced by your body and will increase blood supply to the allergic area. It does not prevent the release of histamine from mast cells. (2)
Side Effects of Levocetirizine
Just like other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, levocetirizine will have the risk of developing mild or severe side effects.
If you experience these effects, be sure to contact emergency medical attention because they can be fatal:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
These may be symptoms of an allergy to the chemical.
Non-fatal but still severe side effects can include:
- Painful urination
- Swelling of the urethra
- Pain in the ear or problems hearing
- Faintness or light-headedness
- Worsening allergy symptoms
- Depression, agitation, aggressiveness, or hallucinations
- Stomach pain or loss of appetite
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes(Jaundice)
- Numbing of the lips or mouth
If you experience these symptoms, stop taking levocetirizine and call your doctor.
Common and mild side effects of levocetirizine include:
- Tiredness or weakness
- Pain in the sinuses
- Sore throat or cough
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Dry mouth
- Blurred Vision
- Heart palpitations
Everyone’s body is unique and you may experience different symptoms.
How Do You Take Xyzal?
You should always take prescription drugs as recommended by your doctor and follow the directions on the prescription label.
If your child was prescribed this medication, please take note that a child’s body absorbs at least twice as much of the drug as an adult.
Do not give your child the same dose as you would yourself, or even half.
Taking too much of this medication will cause dizziness and fatigue while not making it any more effective for your allergy symptoms.
Levocetirizine is usually directed to be taken in the evening before bed so that it may be active when you wake up in the morning.
If you have the liquid form, make sure that you use the dosing syringe or medicine cup to make sure that you are getting the correct amount. You can ask a pharmacist for one for free.
Keep this medication at room temperature, away from moisture, heat, and sunlight.
Important Precautions When Considering Levocetirizine
If you have kidney disease or are on dialysis, you should not take this medication and you should make your doctor aware of these conditions that you have.
It may also be important to notify your doctor of liver or gallbladder problems because this medication may complicate these health problems further.
If you are allergic to levocetirizine or cetirizine, also known as Zyrtec, you should not take this drug.
If you have conditions that give you problems with urination, like enlarged prostate or spinal cord lesion, you should reconsider this medication.
Pregnant and nursing mothers should not take levocetirizine because it can be transmitted to your baby through the bloodstream or breast milk. (3)
Drug Interactions With Xyzal
Alcohol will increase the nervous system side effects that can be experienced with levocetirizine. It can create a severe problem for dizziness, drowsiness and short-term memory loss. This drug combination will also impair thinking and judgment.
Definitely avoid alcohol when on this medication, especially when you are operating hazardous machinery.
Other allergy medications, sedatives, narcotics, pain relievers, sleep medication and antidepressants will give you adverse effects. They can worsen depression, anxiety and insomnia. (4)
It is most important to avoid taking ritonavir(Norvir, Kaletra) and theophylline(Aquaphillin, Asmalix, Theolair, Theosol) supplements when considering levocetirizine.
This list will never be complete and other drugs and supplements can interact with levocetirizine, as well as food. This includes vitamins and herbal products.
What is Levocetirizine (Xyzal) Compared to Cetirizine(Zyrtec)?
Xyzal is considered a third-generation antihistamine that comes after the second-generation Zyrtec. You have to take half the amount of levocetirizine to get the same effect as Zyrtec. They are both essentially the same compound that work to block histamine receptors.
One of the claimed differences is that Xyzal will bind more effectively to the receptor sites and it has been said to be safe for infants at six months of age. Zyrtec is not intended for small children. However, Xyzal is not available in a chewable like Zyrtec is. (5)
Xyzal and Zyrtec are both considered non-sedative, but Xyzal can cause drowsiness. (6)
What is Levocetirizine (Xyzal) Compared to Fexofenadine(Allegra)
Two studies involving adults with seasonal allergic rhinitis tried to compare levocetirizine and fexofenadine in terms of symptom relief and improving quality of life. The study polled the participants and they had concluded that symptom relief was equal between the two drugs.
However, the participants voted that their quality of life had improved much more with Allegra. (7)
In terms of safety, levocetirizine is deemed much safer for use on children suffering from allergies.
Should We Consider Switching to Levocetirizine?
Research has proven that this medication can reduce asthma attacks by 70%. It is considered a generation above Zyrtec that is non-sedating and does not enter the brain in large amounts.
Levocetirizine had been approved for over-the-counter sale on January 31, 2017 by the Food and Drug Administration. At that point, it had already been available in stores in most European countries.
In my opinion, regular Zyrtec or Allegra would be a more effective use of your money. From the research that has been gathered so far on this new drug, it seems that it is not more effective than Zyrtec or Allegra when it comes to relieving allergy symptoms. This is because it had never been formally proven better than a second-generation antihistamine like cetirizine.
I have written before that everybody reacts differently to antihistamines and should experiment with different ones to see which works best for you. Although I recommend avoiding these drugs and only using them when needed, I find that Allegra brand antihistamine works best for me.
For those emergency days when life is demanding and you don’t want to deal with your severe allergy symptoms, try to find the brand of antihistamine that works best for you if natural methods are not effective enough.
I am always here for you, so feel free to talk to me in the comments.