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Side Effects
Serious

Potentially life-threatening heartbeat irregularities. In most cases, such heart rhythm problems occur when patients take more than the prescribed dose in hopes of magnifying the drug's effect; be certain not to take more than the prescribed 10 mg daily dose. If any disturbing symptoms occur--especially fainting, dizziness, or palpitations--discontinue taking astemizole and seek emergency medical assistance immediately.
Common

No common side effects are associated with astemizole.
Less Common

Drowsiness, nervousness, increase in appetite, weight gain, fast or irregular heartbeat, nausea, diarrhea, sore throat, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, fatigue.
Astemizole


Drug Class:
Antihistamine

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Hismanal 10 mg
(Janssen)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions
 


Available In
Tablets

Why Prescribed
To prevent or relieve symptoms of hay fever and other allergies, and for chronic idiopathic urticaria (persistent itching with no determinable cause). NOTE: The pharmaceutical company that manufactures this drug has voluntarily removed it from the market as of June 21, 1999. The drug will be available until the supply currently on pharmacy shelves has been exhausted.

How It Works
Astemizole blocks the effects of histamine, a naturally occurring substance within the body that causes swelling, itching, sneezing, watery eyes, hives, and other symptoms of allergic reactions.

Range and Frequency
Adults and teenagers: 10 mg once a day. Do not exceed the 10 mg maximum daily dose. Not recommended for children under the age of 12.

Onset of Effect
Unknown, but it is probably prolonged (up to six hours after ingestion); the maximum effect may not be apparent until the second or third day.

Duration of Action
Up to 24 hours. (Traces of the drug may remain in the body for three or four weeks after discontinuing therapy.)

Dietary Advice
It should be taken one hour before or two hours after a meal. Astemizole may be taken with food or a glass of milk or water, but this may reduce effectiveness of the drug by interfering with its absorption.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container in a dry place away from heat and direct light.

Missed Dose
Take it as soon as you remember. If it is within six hours of your next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
Take astemizole as prescribed for the full treatment period. However, you may stop taking the drug if you are feeling better before the scheduled end of therapy.

Prolonged Use
No special problems are expected; tolerance to the drug does not usually develop.

Over 60
Adverse reactions may be more likely and more severe in older patients. A lower dose may be warranted.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medicine affects you.

Alcohol
Do not use astemizole if you have a history of alcoholism, alcohol abuse, or liver problems such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Pregnancy
Caution is advised; consult your doctor about whether the benefits outweigh potential risks.

Breast Feeding
Astemizole may pass into breast milk; use caution. Consult your doctor for specific advice.

Infants and Children
Safety and effectiveness for children under 12 have not been established.

Special Concerns
Do not exceed the daily dose of 10 mg; this may lead to potentially life-threatening heart rhythm disturbances.

Overdose Symptoms
Seizures, hallucinations, coma, cardiac arrest, serious heart rhythm irregularities.

What to Do
Call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
Do not take the following drugs with astemizole: ketoconazole, itraconazole, mibefradil, or macrolide antibiotics (clarithromycin, erythromycin, and related drugs). These drugs may increase levels of astemizole in the blood by blocking its metabolism in the liver, potentially causing adverse effects. Taking astemizole in conjunction with the following drugs is not recommended: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), protease inhibitors (ritonavir, indinavir, saquinavir, nelfinavir), and zileuton.

Food Interactions
Do not take astemizole with grapefruit juice. Taking astemizole with food will reduce the body's absorption of the drug by 60%.

Disease Interactions
Do not take astemizole if you have liver impairment. Caution is advised in patients with a history of liver or kidney disease, or with ventricular arrhythmia. Consult your doctor.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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