A healthcare provider may prescribe hydroxyzine hydrochloride (hydroxyzine HCl), sold under the brand names Atarax® and Vistaril®, to treat several conditions. Specifically, the medication can help relieve itching caused by allergic and nonallergic reactions, reduce anxiety, treat nausea and vomiting, and help improve the effectiveness of opioid pain relievers.
Hydroxyzine HCl is a first-generation (sedating) antihistamine and works for itching by blocking histamine receptors. Its anti-anxiety activity is probably due to its effects in certain parts of the brain. This medicine can also cause relaxation of skeletal muscles.
In addition, hydroxyzine HCl has anticholinergic activity, which means that it blocks acetylcholine receptors and is probably why it helps to alleviate nausea.
Although most people tolerate hydroxyzine HCl well, it is not suitable for everyone. For example, you may not be able to take this drug if you have glaucoma, difficulty passing urine, or Alzheimer's disease. Before using this medication, talk to your healthcare provider about any other medical conditions you have and any other medications you are taking (including vitamins, supplements, and nonprescription medications).
(Click Hydroxyzine for a complete overview of hydroxyzine HCl, including information on how this medication works, potential side effects, general dosing guidelines, and what else to tell your healthcare provider before using it.)