Atarax is the brand name for hydroxyzine, a widely used medication that helps with many conditions and mainly serves as an antihistamine. Its most common use cases are for managing allergic reactions, dealing with anxiety, and helping with pruritus (the medical term for itching).

The active ingredient, hydroxyzine, works by blocking the effects of histamine. Histamine is a substance that our body produces when we’re having an allergic reaction.

When used for anxiety, it’s not recommended as a long-term solution nor as a first line of defense. There are other medications more commonly used for this purpose, so ask your doctor before using if anxiety is your primary concern.

How Does Atarax Work?

Atarax’s primary function is to prevent histamines in our body from causing discomfort or pain. Histamines are not bad, but they can cause uncomfortable symptoms as the body is reacting to something it may be allergic to.  An antihistamine like Atarax is designed to reset the balance of histamines within the body to restore your sense of equilibrium and comfort.

Because Atarax can sometimes have a soothing effect, it can also manage insomnia or help with better sleep. This isn’t its most common use, and there are other medicines better suited for sleep disorders, but it can be an occasionally helpful second option.

Atarax Precautions & Warnings

Ask your doctor before using Atarax if you have any of the following conditions:

  • If you have allergies. Especially any allergies to hydroxyzine
  • If you are pregnant or nursing. The medicine may have adverse effects.
  • If you have any pre-existing medical conditions. People who have glaucoma or cardiac issues should be extra cautious.

Atarax Side Effects

Atarax (hydroxyzine) may cause several side effects, and everyone may react differently to the medication. Please consult your doctor if you experience any of these side effects for an extended period.

  • Drowsiness: Many people have reported that Atarax can have a soothing effect on them, so be sure to avoid any activities for which you need to be incredibly alert immediately after taking it. Don’t drive or do anything else taxing (i.e., operating complicated machinery) for 4-6 hours after consuming Atarax as the effects subside.
  • Dry Mouth: This is a common side effect of Atarax but not one to be very concerned about. The drug’s anticholinergic properties cause it, but it can be resolved by staying hydrated and practicing good oral hygiene.
  • Blurred Vision: Atarax can cause temporary vision changes. It’s important to avoid activities that you’ll need clear vision for until these effects subside (also within 4-6 hours)
  • Dizziness: Atarax may cause dizziness, especially if you stand up after a prolonged sitting or lying down. Be careful to move slowly and avoid sudden changes in your posture to minimize this side effect.
  • Increased Heart Rate (Tachycardia): Some people experience a temporary increase in their heart rate, which should only last a few hours. It is not a cause for concern unless you have a pre-existing heart condition.
  • Constipation: Some people report feeling constipated for the next few days after taking Atarax. Maintaining a high-fiber diet and staying hydrated can help prevent this side effect.

Atarax Drug Interactions

If you’re not careful, Atarax can also interact with other medications, which may make these other medications less potent or sometimes even cause adverse effects. Ensure your doctor knows about all medicines you may be taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements. Even if the other medicines have nothing to do with allergies, you’ll still need to tell your doctor to minimize your risk of drug interactions.

Make sure to consult your doctor before starting or stopping any medication while taking Atarax. They can provide a clearer picture by looking at your complete medical history and providing specific guidance on drug interactions to minimize the risk of adverse interactions.

Some notable drug interactions with Atarax include:

  • Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants: Atarax can enhance the sedative effects of other CNS depressants (like alcohol, benzodiazepines, and certain opioids.) Combining these substances is not recommended because it can lead to increased drowsiness and impairment.
  • Anticholinergic Medications: Combining Atarax with other drugs that have anticholinergic effects is not a good idea. This includes certain antidepressants, antipsychotics, or medications for an overactive bladder. Doing so will increase your risk of side effects such as dry mouth, blurred vision, and constipation. An example of an anticholinergic is Toviaz.
  • MAO Inhibitors (MAOIs): Using Atarax with MAOIs (such as Parnate) can result in serious adverse effects, including hypertensive crisis. Under no circumstances should you use Atarax if you have taken an MAOI within the last 14 days.
  • QT Prolonging Medications: Atarax may alter your heart’s electrical activity. As mentioned earlier, it could increase your heart rate. If you combine it with other drugs that also prolong the QT interval, such as antiarrhythmics or even some antipsychotics, you seriously increase your risk of cardiac arrhythmias, which can be dangerous.
  • Certain Antihypertensive Medications: Atarax may enhance the blood pressure-lowering effects of certain antihypertensive medications, which could lead to too much blood pressure reduction too quickly.

Atarax Dosages & Drug Strengths

You may take Atarax in tablet or syrup form. Depending on whether you choose to ingest tablets or syrup, Atarax comes in different strengths.

Generally, the tablets come in strengths of 10, 25, or 50 milligrams. The syrup is available in 10 or 5 mg variations and is less potent.

Your recommended dosage depends on what condition is being treated. Please consult your doctor for specific advice, but its most common use cases are for allergic reactions, anxiety, and itching.

Allergic Reactions Dosages

  • Adults: 25mg to 50mg every 6 to 8 hours as needed
  • Children (ages 6-12): 10mg to 25mg every 6 to 8 hours
  • Children (under 6): Ask your pediatrician

Anxiety Dosages

  • Adults: 50mg to 100mg divided into multiple doses throughout the day
  • Children: Ask your pediatrician

Itching (Pruritus)

  • Adults: 25mg to 50mg every 6 to 8 hours as needed
  • Children (ages 6-12): 10mg to 25mg every 6 to 8 hours
  • Children (< 6 ): Ask your pediatrician

Cost of Atarax & Alternatives

The cost of Atarax in The United States will vary depending on your state, pharmacy, and insurance plan. Check with your local pharmacy and doctor for current pricing, or ask about a generic version, which may be available at a lower cost.

MedicationApproximate Cost

(30-day supply)

Active Ingredient
Atarax (Brand)$20 – $50Hydroxyzine
Hydroxyzine (Generic)$15 – $40Hydroxyzine
Vistaril (Alternative)$25 – $60Hydroxyzine Pamoate
Xyzal (Alternative)$40 – $80Levocetirizine

Questions & Answers of Atarax

Is Atarax available over the counter?

Atarax, or hydroxyzine, is typically available only with a prescription and is not commonly sold over the counter.

Can Atarax be used for long-term anxiety treatment?

It is generally not recommended as a long-term solution.

Are there any dietary restrictions to follow when using Atarax?

While no specific dietary restrictions exist, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is still recommended.

Are there any long-term side effects of using Atarax?

Atarax is intended for short-term use. Extended use of Atarax may lead to cognitive impairment, tolerance, dependence, or withdrawal symptoms. Please consult your doctor for further advice.

Can I use Atarax if I’m pregnant?

While Atarax doesn’t counteract pregnancy specifically, it is still best to discuss any potential risks with your doctor before use.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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