Acrivastine is an antihistamine medicine that helps the symptoms of allergies.
It's used to treat hay fever, conjunctivitis (red, itchy eyes), eczema and hives (urticaria).
It's also used for reactions to insect bites and stings and for some food allergies.
Acrivastine is known as a non-drowsy antihistamine. It's less likely to make you feel sleepy than some other antihistamines.
Acrivastine is available on prescription. You can also buy it from pharmacies and supermarkets.
It comes as capsules. Sometimes it's combined with a decongestant called pseudoephedrine to unblock your nose and sinuses.
Who can and cannot take acrivastine
Acrivastine capsules that you buy from pharmacies and supermarkets can be taken by adults under the age of 65, and children aged 12 years and over.
Acrivastine is not recommended for people over 65 because very little research on the medicine has been done in this age group.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you're over 65 and want to take acrivastine.
Acrivastine is not suitable for some people. To make sure it's safe for you, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you:
- have ever had an allergic reaction to acrivastine or any other medicine
- have kidney disease
- have epilepsy or another health problem that puts you at risk of seizures or fits
- have a rare illness called porphyria
- are due to have an allergy test – taking acrivastine may affect the results, so you might need to stop taking it a few days before the test
How and when to take acrivastine
If you or your child have been prescribed acrivastine, follow your doctor's instructions about how and when to take it.
If you bought acrivastine from a pharmacy or shop, follow the instructions that come with the packet.
Acrivastine comes as capsules (8mg). The usual dose in adults and children aged 12 and over is 1 capsule 3 times a day.
When it's mixed with a decongestant, each capsule contains 8mg of acrivastine and 60mg of pseudoephedrine. The usual dose in adults and children aged 12 and over is 1 capsule 3 times a day.
Do not take more than 3 acrivastine capsules, or 3 acrivastine mixed with pseudoephedrine capsules, in 24 hours.
How to take it
Acrivastine does not usually upset your stomach. You can take it with or without food.
Swallow the capsules whole. Do not chew them.
Always take acrivastine capsules with a drink of water, milk or juice (but do not drink grapefruit juice with acrivastine as you may be more likely to get side effects).
When to take it
You may only need to take acrivastine on a day you have symptoms, such as when you've been near 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?
Take your forgotten dose as soon as you remember, unless it's nearly time for your next dose. In this case, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time.
Do not take 2 doses to make up for a forgotten dose. Do not take more than 3 capsules in 24 hours.
If you often forget doses, 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?
Acrivastine is generally very safe. Taking more than your prescribed dose is unlikely to harm you. If you take an extra dose, you might get some of the common side effects.
If this happens or you're concerned, contact your doctor.
- you take more than your usual dose of acrivastine and pseudoephedrine (Benadryl Allergy Relief Plus Decongestant) and experience side effects
- getting the shakes
- changes in your heart rate
Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111
If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.
Take the acrivastine packet, or the leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine with you.
Like all medicines, acrivastine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
Common side effects
There are some differences between the side effects of medicines that only contain acrivastine, and medicines that combine acrivastine with pseudoephedrine.
The most common side effect of acrivastine is feeling sleepy and tired. This happens in more than 1 in 10 people.
Other common side effects of acrivastine happen in more than 1 in 100 people. These include:
- dry mouth
- feeling dizzy
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or do not go away.
The common side effects of acrivastine when mixed with pseudoephedrine happen in more than 1 in 100 people. They include:
- difficulty sleeping
- feeling sick (nausea)
- feeling nervous
- difficulty peeing (for men), especially those with an enlarged prostate
If you experience any of these, stop taking it and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about trying an acrivastine-only medicine.
Serious side effects
Call a doctor straight away if:
- you start seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)
- you get a rash
- you get pain or discomfort in the chest, neck, back or shoulders – these could be signs of angina, or a heart attack
- your skin gets more red than usual or you get small, pus-filled blisters on the skin – these could be signs of a condition called acute generalised exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP). This usually happens within the first 2 days of treatment
- you get sudden stomach pains or start bleeding from your bottom (rectal bleeding)
- you suddenly cannot see properly
- you have weakness of the face, arms or legs, or speech problems – these could be signs of a stroke
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to acrivastine.
These are not all the side effects of acrivastine. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
How to cope with side effects of acrivastine
What to do about:
- feeling sleepy – try a different non-drowsy antihistamine. If this does not help, talk to your doctor.
- dry mouth – chew sugar-free gum or suck sugar-free sweets.
- feeling dizzy – lie down until the dizziness passes, then get up slowly. Move slowly and carefully. It's best to avoid coffee, cigarettes, alcohol and recreational drugs. If the dizziness does not get better within a couple of days, speak to your pharmacist or doctor.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Acrivastine is not usually recommended during pregnancy because there is very little information about its use in pregnancy. Other antihistamines that we know more about may be more suitable.
If you think you need to take acrivastine in pregnancy, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They will be able to help you decide, or may suggest other medicines for you.
Acrivastine and breastfeeding
If your doctor or health visitor says your baby is healthy, you can use acrivastine while breastfeeding, but it is better to take occasional doses or only for a short time.
We do not know how much acrivastine gets into breast milk, so it is better to take an antihistamine which we know more about.
If you're breastfeeding, or planning to breastfeed, talk to your doctor. They may prescribe similar antihistamines, called loratadine or cetirizine, that are more suitable while you're breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, midwife or health visitor if your baby is not feeding as well as usual, seems unusually sleepy, seems irritable, or if you have any other concerns about your baby.
Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines affect how acrivastine works or can increase the chances of you having side effects.
Check with your pharmacist or doctor if you're taking:
- ketoconazole, a medicine to treat fungal infections
- erythromycin, an antibiotic
- any medicine that makes you sleepy, gives you a dry mouth, or makes it difficult for you to pee – taking acrivastine might make these side effects worse
Acrivastine mixed with pseudoephedrine (Benadryl Allergy Relief Plus Decongestant) affects lots of medicines. Check with your pharmacist or doctor before you take it.
Mixing acrivastine with herbal remedies and supplements
There might be a problem taking some herbal remedies and supplements alongside acrivastine, especially ones that cause sleepiness, a dry mouth, or make it difficult to pee.
Ask your pharmacist for advice.
Atopic eczema — Link to Related Condition
Conjunctivitis — Link to Related Condition
Food allergy — Link to Related Condition
Hay fever — Link to Related Condition
Hives — Link to Related Condition
HealthUnlocked: acrivastine forum — Link to Useful Resource
Allergy UK: charity — Link to Useful Resource
Itchy Sneezy Wheezy: website for parents — Link to Useful Resource
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