Ezetimibe | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

ezetimibe, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Zetia
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Highlights for ezetimibe

Oral tablet
1

Ezetimibe is used to reduce high cholesterol levels. It’s used alone or in combination with other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

2

This drug comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth every day.

3

Ezetimibe is available as a brand-name drug called Zetia. It’s not available in its generic form.

4

More common side effects of taking this drug include diarrhea, stuffy nose, infection of the nose, throat, and airways, and joint pain.

5

In some cases, ezetimibe can cause serious side effects. These include liver enzyme problems and unexplained severe muscle problems.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Liver problems

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 you start and during treatment with this drug.

Severe muscle problems

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?

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral tablet.

This drug is available as a brand-name drug called Zetia. It’s not available in its 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

This drug is used to reduce levels of cholesterol in people with high cholesterol levels in the blood.

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called cholesterol absorption inhibitors.

More Details

How it works

This drug 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.

This drug 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.

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ezetimibe Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

Some of the more common side effects that can occur with use of ezetimibe include:

  • diarrhea

  • 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 9-1-1 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. This usually doesn’t cause symptoms. Your doctor will measure your liver enzymes in your blood while you’re taking ezetimibe.

  • severe muscle problems. Symptoms 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
    • fever
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.
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ezetimibe May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Ezetimibe 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.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Blood thinners

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 watch you more closely if you take a blood thinner with ezetimibe.

These drugs include:

  • warfarin

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Certain cholesterol-lowering drugs 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 2 hours before or 4 hours after taking your other cholesterol medicine.

These drugs include:

  • cholestyramine
  • colestipol
  • colesevelam

These medicines may cause gallstones when taken with ezetimibe:

  • fenofibrate
  • gemfibrozil

Rheumatoid arthritis/organ transplant drugs

Taking these medications together increases the levels of both drugs in your body. Your doctor may watch you more closely if you take an organ transplant drug with ezetimibe.

These drugs include:

  • cyclosporine

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.
Drug warnings
liver disease
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 you start and during treatment with this drug.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. 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 to the fetus.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

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 baby. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

for seniors
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, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

for children
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.

call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you are having symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • crushing pain in your chest
  • pain in your arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of your stomach
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea or vomiting

Symptoms of a stroke include:

  • face drooping or numbness on one side of your face
  • weakness in one arm
  • slurred speech and being unable to talk
  • sudden loss of vision or consciousness
allergies
Allergies

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
  • hives

Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these symptoms.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take ezetimibe (Dosage)

Oral tablet

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

What are you taking this medication for?

Reduce high cholesterol levels

Brand: Zetia

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

10 mg taken by mouth once per day.

Child dosage (ages 10–17 years)

10 mg taken by mouth once per day.

Child dosage (ages 09 years)

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 10 years. 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, more of a drug stays 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 to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug 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 the drug, act right away. Call your doctor or local Poison Control Center, or go to the nearest emergency room.

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.

This drug is a long-term drug treatment.

Store this drug at room temperature

Store this drug at room temperature from 59°F (15°C) to 86°F (30°C). Keep it 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.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you, such as in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box 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.

Clinical monitoring

You’ll need to have your cholesterol levels monitored while you take this drug. This test will tell if your medication is working.

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues. This 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. You should also 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
    • confusion

Your diet

You should follow a low cholesterol diet while taking this drug. Ask your doctor or nutritionist 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.

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How Much Does ezetimibe Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for ezetimibe

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for ezetimibe on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on August 31, 2015

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.
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