Fexofenadine

  1. About fexofenadine

    Fexofenadine is an antihistamine medicine that helps with the symptoms of allergies.

    It's used to treat hay fever, allergic conjunctivitis (red, itchy eye), eczema and hives (nettle rash). It's also used for reactions to insect bites and stings and for some food allergies

    Fexofenadine is known as a non-drowsy antihistamine. It's less likely to make you feel sleepy than some other antihistamines.

    Fexofenadine is available on prescription. It comes as tablets.

  2. Key facts

    • It's usual to take fexofenadine once a day. Children sometimes take it twice a day. 
    • Fexofenadine is classed as a non-drowsy antihistamine, but some people still find it makes them feel quite sleepy.
    • Common side effects include headache, feeling sleepy, dry mouth, feeling sick and dizziness.
    • Don't drink grapefruit juice, apple juice or orange juice while you're taking fexofenadine. It might make you more likely to get side effects.
    • It's best not to drink alcohol while you're taking fexofenadine as it can make you feel sleepy. 
    • Fexofenadine is also called by the brand name Telfast. 
  3. Who can and can't take fexofenadine

    Fexofenadine tablets can be taken by adults and children aged 6 years and over.

    Fexofenadine isn't recommended for people over 65 years old because there isn't much research on the medicine in this age group. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you're over 65 and want to take fexofenadine.

    Fexofenadine isn't suitable for some people. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you:

    • have had an allergic reaction to fexofenadine or any other medicines in the past
    • have problems with your liver or kidneys
    • have, or have ever had, heart problems
    • have epilepsy or another health problem that puts you at risk of seizures
    • are booked to have an allergy test - taking fexofenadine may affect the results, so you might need to stop taking it a few days before the test
  4. How and when to take it

    If you or your child have been prescribed fexofenadine, follow your doctor's instructions about how and when to take it.

    How much should I take?

    Fexofenadine comes as tablets (30mg, 120mg and 180mg). 

    How much you take depends on why you're taking it:

    • For hay fever - the usual dose for adults and children aged 12 years and over is 120mg once a day. The usual dose for children aged 6 to 11 years is 30mg twice a day. In this case, try to space the doses 10 to 12 hours apart.
    • For hives (nettle rash) - the usual dose for adults and children aged 12 years and over is 180mg once a day.

    How to take it

    If you're taking 30mg fexofenadine tablets, you can take them with or without food.

    If you're taking 120mg and 180mg fexofenadine tablets, take them before a meal.

    Always take your fexofenadine tablets with a drink of water. Swallow them whole - do not chew them.

    When to take it

    You may only need to take fexofenadine on a day you have symptoms, such as if you've been exposed to something you're allergic to like animal hair. Or you may need to take it regularly to prevent symptoms, such as to stop hay fever during spring and summer.

    What if I forget to take it?

    If you're taking fexofenadine once a day, do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose. Take the next dose at the usual time as prescribed by your doctor.

    If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

    What if I take too much?

    Fexofenadine is generally very safe. Taking too much is unlikely to harm you.

    If you take an extra dose by mistake, you might get some of the common side effects. If this happens or you're concerned, contact your doctor.

  5. Side effects

    Like all medicines, fexofenadine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.

    Common side effects 

    Common side effects of fexofenadine happen in more than 1 in 100 people. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don't go away: 

    • feeling sick
    • feeling sleepy
    • headache
    • dry mouth
    • feeling dizzy

    Serious side effects 

    It's rare to have a serious side effect with fexofenadine.

    Tell your doctor straight away if you have a fast or irregular heartbeat.

    Serious allergic reaction

    In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction to fexofenadine.

    A serious allergic reaction is an emergency. Contact a doctor straight away if you think you or someone around you is having a serious allergic reaction.

    The warning signs of a serious allergic reaction are:

    • getting a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
    • wheezing
    • tightness in the chest or throat
    • having trouble breathing or talking
    • swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat

    These are not all the side effects of fexofenadine. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.

    You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.

  6. How to cope with side effects

    What to do about:

    • feeling sick - stick to simple meals and don't eat rich or spicy food
    • feeling sleepy - try a different non-drowsy antihistamine. If this doesn't help, talk to your doctor
    • headache - take an everyday painkiller like paracetamol or ibuprofen
    • dry mouth - chew sugar-free gum or suck sugar-free sweets
    • feeling dizzylie down until the dizziness passes, then get up slowly. Move slowly and carefully. Avoid coffee, cigarettes, alcohol and recreational drugs. If the dizziness doesn't get better within a couple of days, speak to your pharmacist or doctor.
  7. Cautions with other medicines

    Some medicines and fexofenadine interfere with each other and increase the chances of you having side effects. Check with your pharmacist or doctor if you're taking:

    • midodrine, a medicine used to treat low blood pressure
    • ketoconazole, a medicine to treat fungal infections
    • erythromycin, an antibiotic
    • ritonavir or lopinavir, medicines used to treat HIV infection
    • rifampicin, an antibiotic
    • indigestion remedies containing aluminium or magnesium - leave about 2 hours between the times that you take fexofenadine and your indigestion remedy
    • any medicine that makes you drowsy, gives you a dry mouth, or makes it difficult for you to pee. Taking fexofenadine might make these side effects worse.

    Mixing fexofenadine with herbal remedies and supplements

    There might be a problem taking some herbal remedies and supplements alongside fexofenadine - especially ones that cause sleepiness, a dry mouth or make it difficult to pee.

    Ask your pharmacist for advice.

    Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.

  8. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

    Fexofenadine isn't normally recommended during pregnancy.

    A similar antihistamine called loratadine is normally used first because there's more information to say that it's safe.

    Talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible harms of taking fexofenadine. It will also depend on how many weeks pregnant you are and the reason you need to take fexofenadine.

    Fexofenadine and breastfeeding

    There's not a lot of information on the use of fexofenadine during breastfeeding, and so it's best not to take it.

    It's usually safe to take similar antihistamines called loratadine and cetirizine while you're breastfeeding.

    However, speak to your doctor before taking any antihistamine if your baby was premature, had a low birth weight or has other health problems.

    For safety, tell your pharmacist or doctor if you're trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or if you're breastfeeding.

  9. Common questions

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