Healthy Living

What Is Vistaril Used For?

What Is Vistaril Used For?

What is Vistaril (hydroxyzine)?

Vistaril is a medication used to reduce central nervous system activity. It is an antihistamine drug that can help reduce the effects of histamine in the body and relieve symptoms of allergy, such as histamine-induced itch, hives, and contact dermatitis.

Vistaril is given as a sedative together with other types of medications to help patients relax before and after surgical procedures. It can also help relieve tension and anxiety, which are associated with neurosis as well as other conditions that can trigger anxiety. 

This medication is orally taken with or without meals 3-4 times a day or as directed by your healthcare provider. The dosage usually depends on your health condition, age, and treatment response. When it comes to children, dosages are calculated based on their weight.

Inform your doctor if there are no improvements in your condition or if your condition tends to get worse even after taking this medication. 

Side Effects of Vistaril

The most common side effects of Vistaril may include:

Confusion and drowsiness are common side effects that are experienced by the elderly after taking Vistaril. 

Seek immediate medical help if you experience signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of the face, throat, tongue, or lips.

Vistaril may also cause severe skin reactions in rare cases. 

Check with your doctor right away if you experience acute skin redness or a spreading rash that peels, blisters, or cause yellow or white pustules. You should also call your doctor and stop using Vistaril if you experience any of the following:

  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Fainting
  • Severe dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • A headache with an accompanying chest pain

Warnings and Precautions

Vistaril should not be used if you are allergic to it or if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Allergy to levocetirizine and cetirizine
  • A heart rhythm condition (long QT syndrome)
  • You are pregnant in the first trimester

Vistaril should not be used by pregnant women, particularly in their first to second trimester. This medication could cause congenital defects and could harm an unborn baby. While taking this medication, make sure to use an effective method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. 

To know if Vistaril is safe for you to take, you need to inform your healthcare provider if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Recent heart attack
  • Heart disease and other cardiovascular problems
  • A family or personal history of long QT syndrome
  • Electrolyte imbalance (e.g., abnormal levels of potassium in the blood)
  • Urinary tract obstruction
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction 
  • Glaucoma

This medication should not be used while breastfeeding as it remains unknown if Vistaril passes into breast milk and harm a nursing infant. Children should not use this medication without a doctor's advice. 

Vistaril may also affect your reactions and thinking. For this reason, be extra careful when you perform any activity that requires focus, such as driving and operating machinery. 

Taking Vistaril and consuming alcohol may also cause certain side effects. 


Adult Dose

Adult dose for tension and anxiety relief, including acute alcoholism management:

  • An oral dose of 50-100 mg every six hours or four times a day
  • An immediate intramuscular (IM) dose of 50 to 100 mg with succeeding doses every 4-6 hours (as needed)

Adult dose for skin itching:

  • An oral dose of 25 mg 3-4 times per day

Adult dose for sedation (premedication before the administration of general anesthesia)

  • An oral dose of 50-100 mg
  • An intramuscular (IM) dose of 25-100 mg

Adult dose for nausea and/or vomiting except for nausea/vomiting during pregnancy:

  • An intramuscular (IM) dose of 25-100 mg

Pediatric Dose

Pediatric dose for sedation (premedication before the administration of general anesthesia):

  • An oral dose of 0.6 mg/kg
  • An intramuscular (IM) dose of 0.5 mg/lb of children’s body weight

Pediatric dose for children below 6 years old with manifestations of anxiety:

  • A daily oral dose of 50 mg (divided doses)

For children 6 years old and above:

  • A daily oral dose of 50-100 mg (divided doses)

Pediatric dose for children below 6 years old with pruritus:

  • A daily oral dose of 50 mg (divided doses)

For children 6 years old and above:

  • A daily oral dose of 50-100 mg (divided doses)

Pediatric dose for nausea and/or vomiting:

  • An intramuscular (IM) dose of 0.5 mg/lb of children’s body weight

Vistaril Overdose

Hypersedation is the most common indication of a Vistaril overdose. Other signs and symptoms of an overdose include nausea, vomiting, seizures, and unconsciousness. 

When vomiting has not spontaneously occurred, it must be induced. Gastric lavage is also recommended in such cases. Close monitoring of a patient's vital signs along with general supportive care should also be performed. 

Although uncommon, hypotension or low blood pressure may be managed with vasopressors and intravenous (IV) fluids. Vistaril counteracts the action of epinephrine, so this combination should be avoided. 

To help combat the depressant effects of the central nervous system, USP, caffeine and sodium benzoate injection may be used. 

Cardiac monitoring using an ECG machine is also recommended in people with Vistaril overdose. Torsade de Pointes and QT prolongation may also occur in a Vistaril overdose. 

A specific antidote for a Vistaril overdose does not exist. Moreover, hemodialysis may not be totally effective when it comes to treating patients with a Vistaril overdose. On the other hand, if other drugs, such as barbiturates are also ingested along with Vistaril, hemodialysis may be required. 

The levels of Vistaril in the tissues and body fluids cannot be estimated or measured by any method after Vistaril is excessively administered or ingested. 

Clinical Pharmacology

Vistaril is not chemically related to benzodiazepines, meprobamate, reserpine, or phenothiazines. This medication is also not a cortical depressant. Its action is usually due to a suppressed activity in certain subcortical regions of the central nervous system. 

Relaxation of the primary skeletal muscle has also been experimentally demonstrated. Other activities that are experimentally demonstrated and clinically confirmed are analgesic, antihistaminic, and bronchodilating effects. 

Both clinical and pharmacological studies have demonstrated that Vistaril in therapeutic dosages does not promote an increase in gastric acidity or gastric secretion. It only has mild antisecretory activity in most cases. 

The effects of Vistaril are usually observed within 15-30 minutes after ingestion due to the drug's rapid absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.