Brand Name:Optimine

Prescription needed: Yes

What is this drug used for?

Azatadine belongs to a class of drugs called antihistamines and is primarily used to treat symptoms of the common cold, seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis, and various allergic reactions to drugs, food and/or insect stings.

It may also be used for short-term sleep problems, other types of rhinitis, chronic cough due to a condition called post-nasal drip, symptoms of vertigo,  and symptoms of motion sickness such as nausea and vomiting and to treat some movement disorders caused by some medications.

Is there any reason not to take this drug?

You should not take this drug if you are allergic to azatadine.

Always disclose your full medical history with the medical team that is taking care of you, in order for them to provide you with the safest and most effective care.
Before taking this medication, tell your doctor specifically if you have ever had:

  • glaucoma (especially narrow angle glaucoma, or open angle glaucoma that is not being treated)
  • problems with your kidney or liver
  • difficulty going to the bathroom due to an enlarged prostate, urinary blockage, urinary incontinence or urinary retention, any heart rhythm problems
  • ashtma or other chronic lung diseases
  • problems with constipation or blockage of intestines
  • overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

What about possible side effects?

The most common side effects are:

  • dry mouth, nose, and throat
  • upset stomach
  • constipation
  • feeling tired and drowsy, decreased mental alertness
  • dizziness and feeling unsteady
  • chest congestion
  • mild rash (reddening of skin)
These side effects are usually related to dose, the use of other medications and other factors (e.g. older age, other medical conditions).  As well, some of these side effects may go away with time. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether you have any risk factors that may make you more sensitive to these side effects.  Contact your doctor if these symptoms continue or become worse
In adults, antihistamines tend to cause a decrease in alertness. In children and the elderly, antihistamines may sometimes cause hyperactivity and insomnia.

Less common side effects are:
  • difficulty urinating
  • headache
  • fast heartbeat
  • mood changes or feeling confused
  • ringing in the ear
  • increased anxiety and nervousness
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following while taking azatadine:
  • swelling of the face, throat or tongue
  • an itchy skin reaction combined with redness and hives
  • any skin reaction involving a large area of the body
  • severe dizziness or fainting
  • shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • sensation of choking
  • unusual bruising of the skin, including bruising which appears as a group of small pinhead-sized bruises
  • convulsions
This is not a complete list of side effects.  If you are concerned about these or other unusual symptoms while taking this medication, ask your doctor and/or pharmacist for more information and advice.

What if I am taking other drugs?

Always provide your doctor with a list of all other drugs you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and herbal/natural products) as they may interact with and/or may change the safety or effectiveness of either drug. Tell your doctor specifically if you are taking any of these drugs as these are the most common interactions and he/she may need to make changes or monitor you more closely:

  • drugs that can cause tiredness, sedation, dizziness or increase the chances of having the same side effects - talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of the following drugs:
  • opioid pain medications (e.g. codeine, oxycodone, morphine, hydromorphone)
  • opioid cough medications (e.g. hydrocodone, codeine)
  • some antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline, doxepin, venlafaxine,  paroxetine, trazodone)
  • medications for anxiety and insomnia (e.g. lorazepam, diazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, zopiclone)
  • antipsychotics (e.g. risperidone, haloperidol)
  • muscle relaxants (e.g. cyclobenzaprine, orphenadrine, baclofen)
  • drugs for epilepsy (gabapentin, phenytoin, phenobarbital, carbamazepine, valproic acid)
  • other antihistamines (e.g. diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, hydroxyzine)
  • alcoholic beverages, including wine, liquors, beer
  • drugs that  can cause dry mouth, dry eyes, problems urinating or constipation (e.g. amitriptyline, desipramine, imipramine; ask your doctor or pharmacist) - increase your chances of having similar side effects
  • MAO inhibitors may prolong and intensify the side effects of antihistamines, in particular causing fainting and dizziness. MAO inhibitors include phenelzine (brand name Nardil), tranylcypromine (brand name Parnate), moclobemide (brand name Manerix, generics available) isocarboxazid (available in the U.S.A. under the brand name Marplan) and others not available in Canada.
  • low doses of the MAO inhibitor selegeline (brand name Deprenyl, generics available) may be safe but always be cautious and seek advice from your  doctor. This is not a complete list of drug interactions.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your list of medications.

Other information:

Special Instructions:

If you are planning on having any skin tests for allergies, Azatadine should be stopped at least 4 days before your allergy skin testing appointment. The use of antihistamines may alter the results of allergy skin testing. Consult with your doctor ahead of time to make sure it is safe for you to stop azatadine.

If using this medication for a long time, you may notice that it is not working as well since it tends to lose its effect over time.  Talk to you doctor or pharmacist.  This medication is usually intended for short-term use only.

Children: Can be used but lower doses are necessary. Children may show signs of excitement and hyperactivity versus drowsiness. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.   

Seniors: Are more sensitive to side effects and lower doses are usually necessary, especially at the start of therapy. May see signs of excitement and agitation as opposed to drowsiness.  May be more likely to experience dizziness or unsteadiness. If side effects are bothersome or persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Pregnancy:  While antihistamines in general are safe to use in pregnancy, there may be more appropriate alternatives to azatadine to treat the same medical conditions. Please take the time to consult with your doctor about these alternatives.

Women who are nursing: This drug passes into breast milk. May cause infant to appear irritable or lethargic. May decrease milk production.  Consult with your doctor about continued use and/or alternatives.

People who drive or operate machinery: Should not do so until they know how this drug affects them personally.  Azatadine may cause decreased mental alertness and drowsiness.

Alcohol: Consuming alcohol will likely increase the side effects of drowsiness and dizziness.

Overdose: A large overdose of this medicine could cause severe and unusual drowsiness. If you experience any unusual reactions or if you seriously exceed the recommended dosage, call your doctor or 911.

Stopping the drug:  Azatadine is usually used on a short-term basis to relieve specific symptoms. You can stop taking this medication when you no longer need symptom relief.

If you miss a dose:  Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. If your prescription directs you to take azatadine twice daily, make sure you wait approximately 12 hours between doses. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

Storage conditions: Closed container; cool, dry location away from excess moisture (not in the bathroom) and light; always out of reach of children.

Dietary precautions: None