Vistaril (A brief guide)

In this blog, we will discuss what Vistaril is, how it is usually taken, how it works and possible side effects.

Remember this guide is by no means intended to replace seeking medical guidance or advice.

What is Vistaril supposed to do?

Vistaril (Hydroxyzine) is used as an allergy treatment.

It is an antihistamine and works by blocking the production of histamine, which is a natural substance that your body produces during an allergic reaction.

It is also known to be used short-term to treat anxiety, due to its sedative properties, and can even be used before and after surgery.

Additionally, it can also be used to treat nausea, vomiting and alcohol withdrawal 

Hydroxyzine is the chemical name of the drug but pharmaceutical companies have many commercial names that you might have probably heard of, such as Vistaril or Atarax

How to use Vistaril?

Your doctor will provide specific instructions on how to take Vistaril but usually, it is prescribed to be taken three to four times a day (orally) and it can be taken with or without food (in comparison to other drugs). 

It is very important you take the exact dose your doctor prescribed and be extra careful especially when taking the liquid form of this medication.

Additionally, your doctor will prescribe the dosage depending on your age, medical condition and response to treatment.

In children, the dosage may depend also on how much you weight.   

In adults, the recommended dosage of Vistaril is mentioned below but remember how important it is to take the exact amount your doctor recommended specifically for you. 

Vistaril (A brief guide)

Adult Dosage Forms and Strength:

  • Tablets: they come in doses of 5 mg, 25 mg or 50 mg
  • Capsule: they come in doses of 25 mg, 50 mg or 100 mg
  • Syrup/oral suspension: It comes in the dose of 10 mg/5mL 
  • Injectable solution: it comes in doses of 25 mg/5mL and 50 mg/5mL

Vistaril (A brief guide)

Most common side Effects

Side effects of Vistaril consumption can vary, but here is a list of the most common:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth

Additional and serious side effects need to be reported to your doctor as soon as possible and some of them can include:

  • Mental or mood changes such as restlessness, confusion or hallucinations.
  • Tremors (shaking)
  • Difficulties urinating

Vistaril (A brief guide)

Vistaril (A brief guide)

We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to take the exact dose your doctor prescribed, be especially extra careful if you are taking the liquid form of this medication. 

In terms of dosage and posology, Vistaril is recommended to be taken for the shortest amount of time possible and at the lowest effective dose. 

In adults and children that weight 40 kg or more, the maximum daily dose is 100 mg per day.

Additionally and in regards to Vistaril for anxiety (adults), it is recommended to be taken daily in divided doses between 50-100 mg.

Also, it might happen that you forget to take your medication because you were busy or simply forgot. 

Don’t panic!  just as soon as you remember to take the missing dosage but if it’s now getting closer for the next dosage just skip the one you forgot and keep taking them as you normally would.  

The recommended dose is 25 mg given 3 to 4 times a day. It can be taken orally or by intramuscular injection. 

The recommended dose for sedation is reported to be 50 to 100 mg orally or 25 to 100 mg by intramuscular injection.

The recommended dose reported to treat anxiety and tension is managed with 50 to 100 mg in 4 divided doses or 50 to 100 mg intramuscular (4 or 6 divided doses).

The recommended dose reported is 50-100 mg injection (can be repeated every 4 to 6 hours). 

Although these are recommended doses your doctor will give you further instructions on how much you should actually take. 

How long does Vistaril take effect?

The maximal effect of Vistaril is between 30 to 60 minutes after intake and the effects can last between 4 to 6 hours. 

What if I am taking other drugs with Vistaril?

In addition, be aware that when Vistaril interacts with other substances it might reduce the effectivity and increase the chance of developing some of the side effects, so try keeping a list of the medicine or substances you are actually taking so you can consult them with your doctor.

Since Vistaril might cause drowsiness, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are simultaneously taking any opioid or cough medicine such as codeine or hydrocodone, if you are a cannabis user, take other anxiety meds such as alprazolam, zolpidem or lorazepam, or if you are taking other antihistamines as diphenhydramine or promethazine.

Currently, there are about 75 drugs known to have mayor interaction with Vistaril. Here we list some of them:

  • Alfentanil
  • Buprenorphine
  • Amiodarone
  • Citalopram
  • Grepafloxacin
  • Levomethadyl acetate
  • Tramadol
  • Sufentanil
  • Anagrelide
  • Potassium chloride
  • Quinidine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Escitalopram
  • Dolasetron
  • Arsenic trioxide
  • Haloperidol
  • Codeine
  • Diazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Clonazepam
  • Alprazolam

Other drug interactions

  • Various narcotics or pain killers and their derivatives such as oxycodone and acetaminophen, hydrocodone/acetaminophen, hydromorphone, and propoxyphene. 
  • Anti-hypertensive medications such as clonidine and propranolol can interact with Vistaril. 
  • Tricyclic class of antidepressants such as amitriptyline, imipramine, and desipramine. 
  • Vistaril can intensify the drying effects of medications such as dicyclomine, bethanechol, propantheline, amitriptyline, and chlorpromazine. 

Is Vistaril safe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding?

Few studies have investigated the association between taking Vistaril while being pregnant (first trimester).

However, they seem to indicate that using Vistaril during the first trimester can carry congenital abnormalities in the fetus ( 

Regarding breastfeeding, suggests that it is still not known how Hydroxyzine is excreted into the breast milk, however, antihistamines are not recommended for use during breastfeeding because they can cause seizures in newborns. 

Overdose: Symptoms to be aware!

If you or someone close experiences some of the following symptoms it could be an indication of Vistaril overdose:

  • Being unresponsive or decreased awareness
  • Feeling extremely sleepy or lethargic
  • Feeling nauseous 
  • Having seizures
  • Vomiting

If you are experiencing these symptoms or someone close to you is, you should immediately seek urgent medical assistance. 

Vistaril (A brief guide)


  • It is important that you always follow the instructions indicated by your doctor. 
  • Keep taking the medicine even if you start to feel better and try not to miss any doses. You could set an alarm or reminder on your phone so it tells you when it’s time for your next dosage. 
  • Always check the labels on all your medicines since they can give you additional component information and avoid having allergic reactions. 
  • Contact your doctor, if you start having seizures, mood swings, hallucinations, tremors, facial swelling, have difficulties urinating, confusion or if your heartbeat is going faster than usual or is irregular.
  • While you get used to using this medicine and identify how you react to it, avoid handling any type of machinery or drive a vehicle.
  • Let your doctor know if you are allergic to the chemical components of Cetirizine or Levocetirizine. 
  • Inform your doctor of any other important allergies you might have.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption while on this medication because this interacts with the medicine to increase the risk of side effects.
  • If you have other medical conditions such as liver disease, diabetes or any other that requires you to avoid or limit your sugar consumption then, be extra careful when taking the liquid form of Vistaril. 
  • Provide your doctor with your complete or most accurate medical history or related conditions, especially if you have breathing problems such as emphysema or asthma, glaucoma, high blood pressure or kidney problems.

Why is this blog about Vistaril important?

This blog post about Vistaril is important because it helps understand what Vistaril is, how is it usually taken, forms and doses and possible side effects.

Additionally, is important to be aware of the possible drug interactions if you happen to be taken more than one drug at a time to treat other medical conditions. 

If you are taking this drug or someone else you know, always make sure to follow the doctor’s instructions and stay alert to identify any warning signs so you can be prepared to act in case of an emergency.

Although we consider this “Vistaril” guide compiled accurately and up to date information from trustworthy medical sources, it is not intended as a strict how-to guide, it is only informative.

Additional questions or concerns should be answered by your doctor.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below!

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Vistaril

Is Vistaril good for anxiety?

Vistaril is used in the treatment of anxiety as off-label, due to the sedative properties.

It is an antihistamine with anticholinergic used for allergies. 

Is hydroxyzine the same thing as Xanax?

Hydroxyzine and Xanax are not the same types of drugs, even if they are both used as part of anxiety treatment.

In nature, Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine with anticholinergic and sedative properties and  Xanax is considered a benzodiazepine.

What is the medicine Vistaril used for?

Vistaril is used mainly to treat allergies, however, off-label is also used to treat anxiety and tension due to the sedative properties.

Is Vistaril a narcotic?

Vistaril is not considered a narcotic since it is not classed as addictive. 

How long does it take for Vistaril to kick in?

It is said to kick in between 30 to 60 mins.

  1. Focus On: 70 Most Popular Sedatives: Sedative, Methaqualone, Ethanol, Ketamine, Quetiapine, Diphenhydramine, Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid, Hydroxyzine, Sodium Thiopental, Drug, etc.
  2. Hydroxyzine (Hydrochloride): Treats Anxiety, Nausea, Vomiting, Allergies, Skin Rash, Hives, Itching, and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Paperback – 21 Apr 2015
  3. [(Hydroxyzine – A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, and Annotated Research Guide to Internet References)] [By (author) Icon Health Publications] published on (March, 2004)
  4. Hydroxyzine: Webster’s Timeline History, 1956 – 2007 Paperback – 17 May 2010
  5. Side Effects of Drugs Annual: A Worldwide Yearly Survey of New Data in Adverse Drug Reactions (ISSN Book 38)

References Vistaril


National Institute for Health Care and Excellence

National Institute for Health Care and Excellence