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What Is Fexofenadine HCL?

By Debra Durkee
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fexofenadine hydrochloride (HCL) is a medication used by individuals who suffer from year-round or seasonal allergies. The medication fexofenadine comes in several different forms, and the letters HCL mean that it is in tablet form typically taken once or twice a day, depending on the dosage contained in the tablet. In many places, it can be purchased as an over-the-counter medication and can be used to treat allergy symptoms as well as hives in adults and children.

The medication acts as an antihistamine and can alleviate a number of symptoms caused by allergies. Watery eyes, sneezing, the appearance of hives, or a dry itch in the throat and nose can all be treated by fexofenadine HCL. In most cases, the medication will take up to three hours to reach its maximum effectiveness, so many individuals will take it continuously throughout the allergy season.

Children and adults can take fexofenadine HCL. When given for skin irritations, it has been approved for use in infants older than six months; when given for allergies, it is usually given to those more than two years old. The adult dose is typically two to three times higher than the dose for children younger than 11 years old. Fexofenadine HCL is also available in a liquid form that is often easier to administer to young children.

Some individuals may experience side effects when first starting to take the medication. Mild side effects that generally fade after the body adjusts to the drug include gastrointestinal distress such as abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and a general feeling of nausea. Some may develop cramping similar to that experienced during a menstrual cycle. There may also be body and muscle aches, fatigue, and headaches.

Most of these effects fade, but if they escalate into flu-like symptoms such as full body aches, fever or chills, or a cough, a medical professional should be informed. These side effects of fexofenadine HCL generally result in the individual being taken off the medication; a prescription medication may be given to manage symptoms without these side effects. Pre-existing conditions such as kidney malfunction can make side effects more serious, and fexofenadine HCL may be made less effective if taken with some vitamins or herbal medications, depending on the individual. Fruit juice may also impact the effectiveness of the medication.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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