Fexofenadine

Sounds like 'fex-oh-fen-ah-deen'

Fexofenadine is an antihistamine used to treat and prevent allergies such as hay fever. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as antihistamines (allergy treatment)
  • Non-sedating antihistamine
  • Telfast®
  • Fexaclear®
  • Fexofast®
  • Fexofenadine-Rex® 
  • Hayfexo®

What is fexofenadine?

Fexofenadine is used to treat and prevent allergies such as hay fever (sneezing, runny or itchy nose, itchy eyes) or skin allergies such as hives (itching, redness, lumps). It works by blocking a chemical in your body called histamine, which is released during an allergic reaction. 

Fexofenadine belongs to a group of medicines known as antihistamines. Fexofenadine is a non-sedating antihistamine, which means that it is less likely to cause drowsiness or make you feel sleepy. In New Zealand, fexofenadine is available as tablets (30mg, 60 mg, 120 mg, 180 mg) or as a liquid. Read more about antihistamines.

Dose

The dose of fexofenadine depends on what you are taking it for.

  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever): 120 mg once day OR 180 mg once a day OR 60 mg 2 times a day.
  • Urticaria (hives): 180 mg once a day.

You can just take fexofenadine on the days you need it. It can be restarted if the symptoms come back. Some people take fexofenadine for a few weeks when their allergies are a problem, such as in spring. Others take it long term to help control allergy symptoms. 

How to take fexofenadine

  • Timing: Take fexofenadine once a day at the same time each day. You can take fexofenadine with or without food. Swallow the tablet whole, with a glass of water.
  • Limit drinking alcohol while you are taking fexofenadine: It may increase your chance of side effects such as sleepiness.  
  • Missed dose: It is not harmful if you miss your fexofenadine dose. If you forget to take your dose, and you usually take it regularly, take it as soon as you remember that day. If it is less than 12 hours for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.

Precautions – before starting fexofenadine

  • Are you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding?
  • Do you have epilepsy?
  • Are you taking or using any other medicines? This includes any medicines you can buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start fexofenadine. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Side effects

Like all medicines, fexofenadine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Tiredness
  • Sleepiness
  • Try taking fexofenadine at night.
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Limit drinking alcohol – it makes these symptoms worse.
  • Changes in eyesight
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling dizzy or confused
  • Problems passing urine (peeing)
  • Constipation (hard poos)
  • Headache
  • Tell your doctor.

Interactions

Fexofenadine may interact with some medicines, so check with your pharmacist before starting fexofenadine and before starting any new medicines. If taken with other antihistamines (such as some cough and cold medicines) it may make you even more sleepy.

Learn more

Telfast Medsafe, NZ
Fexofenadine NZ Formulary

References

  1. Fexofenadine hydrochloride NZ Formulary
  2. Antihistamines NZ Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 05 Feb 2021