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Because of its antihistamine effects it can be used for the treatment of severe cases of itching, hyperalgesia and motion sickness-induced nausea; it has also been used in some cases to relieve the effects of opioid withdrawal.
Even though it is an effective sedative, hypnotic, and anxiolytic, it shares virtually none of the abuse, dependence, addiction, and toxicity potential of other drugs used for the same range of therapeutic reasons.
The effect of hydroxyzine has also been tested on the ability of humans in the registration and storage of memory, and was used in comparison with relatively safe drugs, such as lorazepam, to illustrate the effects of benzodiazepines, which are thought to have adverse effects on the capacity of memory storage.
Hydroxyzine was found to have no adverse effects on memory in relation to lorazepam, which caused several deficiencies in the capacity of memory storage.
The administration of hydroxyzine in large amounts by ingestion or intramuscular administration during the onset of pregnancy can cause fetal abnormalities—when administered to pregnant rats, mice and rabbits, hydroxyzine caused abnormalities such as hypogonadism with doses significantly above that of the human therapeutic range.
Hydroxyzine, sold under the brand names Atarax and Vistaril among others, is a first-generation antihistamine.
It was first synthesized by Union Chimique Belge in 1956 and was marketed by Pfizer in the United States later the same year, and is still widely used today.
However, a systematic review concluded that compared with other anxiolytic agents (benzodiazepines and buspirone), hydroxyzine was equivalent in efficacy, acceptability and tolerability, however there is insufficient evidence to recommend it as a treatment for generalised anxiety disorder due to the high risk of bias in the reviewed studies.
Hydroxyzine can also be used for the treatment of allergic conditions, such as chronic urticaria, atopic or contact dermatoses, and histamine-mediated pruritus.While there are reports of the "hallucinogenic" or "hypnotic" properties of hydroxyzine, several clinical data trials have not reported such side effects from the sole consumption of hydroxyzine, but rather, have described its overall calming effect described through the stimulation of areas within the formatio reticularis.