Zetia (Ezetimibe) - Oral

What Is Zetia?

Zetia (ezetimibe) is an oral prescription drug used to lower cholesterol. It belongs to a drug class known as antihyperlipidemic agents. Zetia can be used by itself or with other drugs, like statins

Ezetimibe is the active ingredient in Zetia and prevents cholesterol absorption in the small intestine. It helps your body get rid of more cholesterol. It also reduces the transport and storage of cholesterol in the liver.

This drug is approved for use in people 10 years of age and older. Zetia is only available as a 10 milligram (mg) tablet.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Ezetimibe

Brand Name: Zeta

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral

Therapeutic Classification: Antihyperlipidemic

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Ezetimibe

Dosage Form: Tablet

What Is Zetia Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zetia to:

  • Lower cholesterol in people who have high cholesterol levels despite using statins and exercise 
  • Treat a rare health issue that makes it hard for your body to get rid of bad cholesterol (homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia)
  • Treat a health problem in which the body absorbs too many sterols but doesn't get rid of enough (homozygous sitosterolemia)
Zetia (Ezetimibe) Drug Information - Illustration by Zoe Hansen

Verywell / Zoe Hansen

How to Take Zetia

Take one tablet by mouth once a day. Take Zetia with or without food at the same time of the day. You may take it at the same time with a statin or fenofibrate. However, make sure to take Zetia at least two hours before or more than four hours after taking bile acid sequestrants, like cholestyramine.

Do not stop taking your medicine if you feel better. Keep taking your medication as directed by your healthcare provider.

Storage

The best temperature to store Zetia at is room temperature (77 F), but you may keep this drug between cool and average hot temperatures (between 59 F and 86 F) during trips. Store your medicine in a dry place away from moisture. Do not leave it in your bathroom.

Keep your medicine out of reach of pets and children. Throw away any unused or expired medication. Do not flush your pills down the drain or toilet. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about the best ways to discard medicine, or look for more about drug take-back programs in your area.

Off-Label Uses

Healthcare providers sometimes prescribe medications for uses not listed on the product label. This is known as off-label use.

Zetia is sometimes prescribed off-label to prevent plaque buildup in arteries after serious heart events, like heart attacks or strokes.

How Long Does Zetia Take to Work?

Zetia works within one week from the time you take it. However, it may take two to four weeks to see its full effects.

What Are the Side Effects of Zetia?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088. 

Like other medications, Zetia may cause side effects. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience any side effects while taking this medication.

Common Side Effects

Many people have few or no side effects while on ezetimibe. However, the most common side effects reported are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of energy 
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Sinusitis (swelling of your sinuses)

Severe Side Effects

It is uncommon to have serious side effects while on Zetia, but some people have had severe and sometimes deadly reactions like:

Call your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you have a medical emergency.

Report Side Effects

Zetia may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Zetia Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Follow carefully the special diet your doctor gave you. This is the most important part of controlling your condition and is necessary if the medicine is to work properly.

  • For tablet dosage form:
    • For high cholesterol:
      • Adults: 10 milligrams (mg) once daily. May take with or without food.
      • Children up to 10 years of age—Use is not recommended.
      • Children 10 years of age and older—10 milligrams (mg) once daily. May take with or without food.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of your drug, take the missed dose as soon as you think of it. If it is too close to your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal schedule. Do not double up on your medicine or take two doses at a time.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Zetia?

Ezetimibe overdoses are rare. However, overdose symptoms may include muscle weakness.

What Happens If I Overdose on Zetia?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Zetia, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control center at 1-800-222-1222.

If someone collapses or isn’t breathing after taking Zetia, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check you at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly to lower your cholesterol. Your doctor can then decide if you should continue to take it.

Check with your doctor immediately if you think that you may be pregnant. Certain cholesterol medications may cause birth defects or other problems in the baby if taken during pregnancy.

Tell your doctor if you experience any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. It is very important that you take all of your medicine. Your doctor will discuss with you any changes in your medicine. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn't Take Zetia?

Do not take Zetia if you are:

  • Allergic to it or any part of its formulation
  • On a statin and have liver disease 
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding and require treatment with a statin

What Other Medications Interact With Zetia?

Do not take Zetia with fibric acid derivatives like:

  • Gemfibrozil
  • Bezafibrate
  • Ciprofibrate

These drugs can increase the level of Zetia in your body. As a result, they may worsen the side effects, mainly causing muscle weakness and gallstones.

What Medications Are Similar?

There are medications that are similar to Zetia, including:

Vytorin, Roszet, and Nexlizet are all combination drugs with ezetimibe as one of the components.

Both Vytorin and Roszet contain statins. They have similar properties, but they are more effective than ezetimibe. These medications raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower triglycerides (fat). They also have more side effects, including a bad reaction called rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown).

Nexlizet has more drug interactions and more side effects than ezetimibe. It may cause common cold symptoms, flu-like symptoms, and muscle spasms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Zetia used for?

    Zetia is commonly used to lower cholesterol.

  • What are some side effects of Zetia?

    Common side effects of Zetia include:

    • Upper respiratory infections, such as colds
    • Sinusitis (swelling of the sinuses)
    • Joint pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Feeling weak
  • How long does it take for Zetia to work?

    Zetia starts working within a week. You may see the full effects in two to four weeks.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Zetia?

You should start feeling better within a week of starting this medication. However, you should not stop taking your medication because you feel better. Suddenly stopping Zetia may increase the risk of having a severe event like stroke or heart attack. If you have any questions or concerns about your drug, talk to your healthcare provider.

Your body makes cholesterol. However, certain foods you eat (e.g., processed foods) may also contain cholesterol. To stay healthy, avoid consuming foods that are high in cholesterol. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommended diet plan for you.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for education purposes only and not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your doctor before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Zetia label.

  2. Savarese G, De Ferrari GM, Rosano GMC, Perrone-Filardi P. Safety and efficacy of ezetimibe: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Cardiology. 2015;201:247-252. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2015.08.103

  3. Cannon CP, Blazing MA, Giugliano RP, et al. Ezetimibe added to statin therapy after acute coronary syndromes. New England Journal of Medicine. 2015;372(25):2387-2397. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1410489

By Queen Buyalos, PharmD
Queen Buyalos is a pharmacist and freelance medical writer. She takes pride in advocating for cancer prevention, overall health, and mental health education. Queen enjoys counseling and educating patients about drug therapy and translating complex ideas into simple language.