- Fexofenadine was originally synthesised by the US-based biotech company Sepracor.
- It has been manufactured in generic form since 2011.
- It is also known by the brand name Telfast.
- 2.76 million items of fexofenadine hydrochloride were prescribed by GP surgeries across England in 2017. As of October 2018, 2.46 millions have already been prescribed this year.
What is fexofenadine?
Fexofenadine (fexo-FEN-a-deen) is an antihistamine used to help relieve allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. It’s known as a non-drowsy or non-sedating antihistamine, meaning it’s less likely to make you feel sleepy than other antihistamines.
The medicine can be used to treat hay fever, conjunctivitis, eczema, hives, reactions to insect bites, and some food allergies. It can be taken by adults under the age of 65 and by children over the age of 6.
Fexofenadine is available on prescription and comes in the form of tablets.
How does fexofenadine work?
As a non-sedating antihistamine, fexofenadine works by preventing the actions of a substance called histamine.
Histamines are produced by the body when it reacts to a foreign pathogens such as pollen or allergens like pet fur. Histamine acts on histamine receptors--eventually resulting in allergic symptoms.
Fexofenadine blocks these histamine receptors, in turn blocking the cause of allergic symptoms. It usually starts to work within half an hour to an hour after taking a dose.
Fexofenadine dosage information
Fexofenadine tablets come in three different strengths: 30mg, 120mg or 180mg. The dose will depend on your symptoms, your age, and any other factors your GP may take into consideration.
Fexofenadine for hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
For children aged 6 to 11 years suffering from hay fever, the usual dose is 30mg taken twice daily. For children aged 12 to 17 years and adults, the usual dose is 120mg taken once a day.
Fexofenadine for hives (chronic idiopathic urticaria)
For adults and adolescents aged 12 and over who are suffering from hives, the typical daily dose is 180mg (taken once).
You can find instructions in your medicine’s Patient Information Leaflet if you are uncertain about your fexofenadine dosage. Alternatively, your GP and pharmacist are on hand to provide advice.
How and when to take fexofenadine
Fexofenadine is usually taken once a day. For children, it is sometimes taken twice a day. Check with your GP or the medicine’s Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) if you are unsure.
Fexofenadine can be taken at any time of the day. If you or your dependant is required to take two tablets daily, make sure you leave at least 10 to 12 hours between doses.
If you’re taking 30mg fexofenadine tablets, you can take them with or without food. 120mg or 180mg fexofenadine tablets should be taken before a meal. Do not crush, break or chew the tablets - take them whole with a glass of water.
If you accidentally miss a dose, do not take two tablets to make up for the forgotten dose. Instead, wait for the next dose. Using Echo can help you keep on top of your doses.
If you want to stop treatment, do not abandon the medication suddenly. Speak to your GP about gradually decreasing your dose, as this will reduce the risk of developing rebound allergy symptoms.
Fexofenadine side effects
As with any medicine, it’s possible that fexofenadine may cause side effects. Common side effects include:
Serious side effects are rare. Contact a doctor immediately if you start to experience a fast or irregular heartbeat while on the medication.
In extremely rare cases, it’s possible that fexofenadine may cause a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Again, get in touch with a doctor straight away if you show signs of such a reaction.
For a full list of fexofenadine side effects, check your Patient Information Leaflet.
Before you start your course of fexofenadine, it’s important to tell your GP or pharmacist about any other medications, herbal remedies or supplements you are taking. You should also check with your GP before taking any other medicines while you’re on fexofenadine to make sure the combination is safe.
Grapefruit juice, apple juice and orange juice decrease your body’s exposure to fexofenadine, meaning it may not work as well. As such, it’s best to avoid these while taking the medicine.
Indigestion remedies containing aluminium or magnesium may also affect the way fexofenadine tablets work by lowering the amount of medicine absorbed. If you are taking an indigestion remedy alongside fexofenadine, it’s recommended that you leave two hours between taking the two medicines.
Check out the NICE website for a comprehensive list of interactions with fexofenadine. If you’d like more information on fexofenadine interactions, speak with your GP or pharmacist.
Fexofenadine is not recommended for people over the age of 65 because there’s not much research on its impact on this age group. If you are 65 and over and want to take fexofenadine, make sure you speak to your GP.
Aside from age constraints, the medicine is not suitable for some people. The NHS suggests you speak to your GP if you:
- Have had an allergic reaction to fexofenadine or any other medicine in the past
- Have a heart problem
- Have liver or kidney problems
- Have epilepsy or another health condition that puts you at risk of seizures.
Taking fexofenadine during pregnancy or while breastfeeding
Most manufacturers of antihistamines recommend that you avoid their use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you are either pregnant or breastfeeding and your GP or health professional recommends that you keep taking fexofenadine, it’s because they feel the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks.
If you plan to become pregnant while taking fexofenadine, make sure you seek your GP’s advice. They may decide to reduce your dose or switch to another medication.
Fexofenadine and alcohol
Alcohol can enhance the side effects associated with antihistamines (including headaches, nausea and diarrhoea), so it’s best to avoid alcohol when taking fexofenadine. If you are prepared to drink alcohol, make sure you are aware of the potential side effects and only drink in moderation.
What’s the easiest way to get fexofenadine?
Struggle to find the time to make it to the pharmacy or just want to an easier way to manage your medication? With Echo, you can have your fexofenadine repeat prescription delivered for free via Royal Mail once your GP has approved the request.
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