Highlights for ezetimibe
- Ezetimibe oral tablet is available as a brand-name drug. It’s not available in a generic form. Brand name: Zetia
- Ezetimibe comes only as a tablet you take by mouth.
- Ezetimibe is used to reduce high cholesterol levels. It’s used alone or in combination with other cholesterol-lowering drugs.
- Liver problems warning: You shouldn’t take this drug if you have moderate or severe liver problems. If your liver doesn’t work well, this drug may stay in your body longer. This can cause the drug to build up in your body and lead to more side effects. Your doctor may monitor your liver enzymes before and during treatment with this drug.
- Severe muscle problems warning: This drug may cause unexplained muscle weakness and pain in some people. Your doctor may do tests if you have muscle weakness after you start taking this drug.
What is ezetimibe?
Ezetimibe is a prescription drug. It comes as an oral tablet.
Ezetimibe oral tablet is available as the brand-name drug Zetia. It’s not available in a generic form.
This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other cholesterol-lowering medications.
Why it's used
Ezetimibe is used to reduce cholesterol in people with high cholesterol levels.
How it works
Ezetimibe belongs to a class of drugs called cholesterol absorption inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
Ezetimibe blocks the amount of cholesterol that’s absorbed from your intestines. This reduces cholesterol in your liver and blood.
This drug hasn’t been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks.
Ezetimibe side effects
Ezetimibe oral tablet can cause drowsiness. It can also cause other side effects.
More common side effects
Some of the more common side effects that can occur with use of ezetimibe include:
- stuffy nose
- viral infection of your nose, throat, and airways
- joint pain
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
- Liver problems. These problems usually don’t cause symptoms. Your doctor will measure the liver enzymes in your blood while you’re taking ezetimibe.
- Severe muscle problems. Symptoms can include:
- unexplained muscle pain in your shoulders, thighs, or lower back
- trouble moving your arms and legs because of weakness
- dark-colored urine
- producing less urine than normal
- joint pain
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
Ezetimibe may interact with other medications
Ezetimibe oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.
To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with ezetimibe are listed below.
Certain blood thinners can be affected by ezetimibe. This can cause the blood thinner to work too well or not well enough. Your doctor may monitor you more closely if you take a blood thinner with ezetimibe. Examples of blood thinners include:
Taking certain cholesterol-lowering drugs with ezetimibe can decrease the amount of ezetimibe in your body. This means that ezetimibe may not work as well. You can avoid this interaction by taking your ezetimibe at least two hours before or four hours after taking your other cholesterol medication.
Examples of these cholesterol drugs include:
These cholesterol medications may cause gallstones when taken with ezetimibe:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or organ transplant drugs
Taking these medications with ezetimibeincreases the levels of both drugs in your body. Your doctor may monitor you more closely if you take an RA or organ transplant drug with ezetimibe.
Examples of these drugs include:
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
This drug comes with several warnings.
This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:
- swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- trouble breathing or swallowing
- skin rash
If you develop these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).
Warnings for people with certain health conditions
For people with liver disease: You shouldn’t take this drug if you have moderate or severe liver problems. If your liver doesn’t work well, this drug may stay in your body longer. This can cause the drug to build up in your body and lead to more side effects. Your doctor may monitor your liver enzymes before and during your treatment with this drug.
Warnings for other groups
For pregnant women: This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:
- Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
- There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.
Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should be used only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk.
For women who are breastfeeding: It isn’t known if this drug passes into breast milk. If it does, it may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.
For seniors: The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, higher levels of a drug stay in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.
For children: This medication has not been studied in children younger than 10 years or girls who haven’t started their menstrual cycle. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 10 years.
How to take ezetimibe
All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:
- your age
- the condition being treated
- how severe your condition is
- other medical conditions you have
- how you react to the first dose
Drug forms and strengths
- Form: oral tablet
- Strength: 10 mg
Dosage for high cholesterol
Adult dosage (ages 18 to 64 years)
The typical dosage is 10 mg taken by mouth once per day.
Child dosage (ages 10 to 17 years)
The typical dosage is 10 mg taken by mouth once per day.
Child dosage (ages 0 to 9 years)
This medication hasn’t been studied in children younger than 10 years. It shouldn’t be used in childrenof this age group. Talk to your child’s doctor before giving this drug to your child.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)
The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, higher levels of a drug stay in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Take as directed
Ezetimibe is used for long-term treatment. It comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.
If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all: Your cholesterol level may rise. If your cholesterol is high and not controlled for a long time, you can have narrowing of the arteries. This may lead to a heart attack and stroke.
If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule: Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.
If you take too much: You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body and may be at higher risk for side effects.
If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.
What to do if you miss a dose: Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose.
Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.
How to tell if the drug is working: You won’t be able to feel if this drug is working. Your doctor will check your cholesterol levels and tell you if it’s working.
Important considerations for taking ezetimibe
Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes ezetimibe for you.
- You can cut or crush the tablet.
- Store ezetimibe at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
- Keep this drug away from high temperatures.
- Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.
A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.
When traveling with your medication:
- Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
- Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t harm your medication.
- You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled container with you.
- Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.
You’ll need to have your cholesterol levels monitored while you take this drug. A cholesterol blood test will tell if your medication is working.
During your treatment with this drug, you and your doctor should monitor other health issues as well. This monitoring can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include:
- Liver function: Blood tests can check how well your liver is working. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may have you stop taking this drug.
- Muscle problems: Blood tests can check for muscle breakdown. Tell your doctor if you have the following symptoms of muscle problems:
- unexplained muscle weakness and pain
- nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain
- fast heart rate
You should follow a low-cholesterol diet while taking this drug. Ask your doctor or nutritionist for information about this type of diet.
Are there any alternatives?
There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.