Exposure to pollen can cause your body to produce allergic symptoms, called hay fever. Cells in the linings of your nose and eyes release a chemical called histamine when they come into contact with pollen. Histamine causes inflammation (rhinitis), which produces symptoms such as sneezing and a runny or blocked nose. It also causes red, watery and itchy eyes (allergic conjunctivitis). Fexofenadine, an antihistamine, stops the effects of histamine and this helps to relieve these symptoms.
Urticaria is a condition where an itchy skin rash develops. The rash may be triggered by an allergy or it can be caused by some other factor which may not be known. If the rash lasts for longer than six weeks, it is referred to as chronic urticaria. Fexofenadine is given to ease the symptoms of rash in people with chronic urticaria.
There are three strengths of fexofenadine tablet available - 30 mg, 120 mg and 180 mg. The 30 mg strength is for treating hay fever in children aged 6-12 years; the 120 mg strength is for treating adults with hay fever; and the 180 mg strength is for chronic urticaria.
Recommended doses of fexofenadine are:
- For adults with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever): 120 mg taken once a day.
- For children aged 6-12 years with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever): 30 mg taken twice a day, in the morning and evening.
- For adults with chronic urticaria: 180 mg taken once a day.
You should take fexofenadine before a meal where possible. Some people find it helps to swallow the tablet with a drink of water. Try to take the tablets at the same time of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take them.
If you do forget to take a dose, don't worry, but do remember to take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Some antacids can reduce the amount of fexofenadine your body absorbs. Because of this, it is recommended that you do not take indigestion remedies during the two hours before or during the two hours after you take a fexofenadine tablet.
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the most common ones associated with fexofenadine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any continue or become troublesome.
Common fexofenadine side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)
- Headache - Drink plenty of water and ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue, let your doctor know
- Feeling tired or dizzy - Do not drive and do not use tools or machines until you feel better. Do not drink alcohol
- Feeling sick (nausea) - Stick to simple meals - avoid spicy foods
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you (or your child) start taking fexofenadine it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to another antihistamine, or to any other medicine.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) is a leaflet containing specific information about medical conditions, doses and side effects. You can download a copy of the PIL here:
Patient Info Leaflet