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Zyrtec vs Claritin: What Is The Best Allergy Medication?

If you’ve ever struggled with allergies, you know how frustrating they can be. The headaches, congestion, and numerous other symptoms make it a less-than-pleasant experience that many of us would just prefer to avoid.

And if it’s your first time, finding the right medication in an aisle full of options can seem overwhelming. But don’t worry because we’re here to help.

Below we’ll compare Zyrtec vs Claritin – two of the most popular options for allergy relief. In addition, we’ll highlight some of their key differences and what you should consider if deciding between the two.

Let’s get started!

What Is Zyrtec?


Zyrtec is an over-the-counter allergy medicine that is classified as an antihistamine. These drugs work by blocking histamine, which is a chemical your body produces when it comes into contact with an allergen (pollen, dust, etc.).

Although Zyrtec is the brand name for the drug, the active ingredient and generic name of the medication is cetirizine. Zyrtec is commonly used to treat symptoms due to hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies.

These include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itching of the nose or throat

Side Effects

There are some side effects you may experience while taking Zyrtec. However, many of these are minor and will go away after your body acclimates to the medicine.

Some of the most common Zyrtec side effects may include:

  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • stomach pain
  • sore throat

In rare cases, Zyrtec can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing. You should talk to your doctor right away if you are experiencing these symptoms.

It’s also important to avoid taking Zyrtec with alcohol, as alcohol can add to the drowsiness you may experience. If you believe you are having a medical emergency as a result of Zyrtec side effects, you should dial 9-1-1 for immediate medical assistance.

Does it make you drowsy?

Yes, although Zyrtec is classified as non-sedating, it can still make you drowsy. Like all antihistamines, Zyrtec works by blocking histamine, which plays a critical role in sleep-wakefulness.

As a result, it can cause mild drowsiness, especially at higher doses or if it is expired. You should avoid alcohol and other sedatives while taking Zyrtec, as they may increase drowsiness.

How long does it take for Zyrtec to work?

According to their website, Zyrtec starts working at hour 1 on the first day you take it. In addition, it is taken once a day, with relief lasting for a full 24 hours. Adults and children aged 6 years or older should not take more than one 10 mg tablet in 24 hours. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about Zyrtec or the recommended dosage.

What Is Claritin?

Claritin is an over-the-counter medication used to treat symptoms caused by common seasonal allergens like trees, grass, and pollen. Although it is commonly known by its brand name, the active ingredient and generic name for Claritin is loratadine.

Claritin is most commonly used to provide non-drowsy allergy relief from a range of allergy symptoms that include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Skin Itch
  • Skin Rash
  • Hives

Similar to Zyrtec, Claritin is a part of the class of medications known as antihistamines which work by blocking the chemical histamine.

Claritin Side Effects

Claritin is relatively safe and well tolerated in a variety of populations when taken as directed. However, it does still have side effects in some cases. For example, common Claritin side effects may include:

  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • nosebleed
  • sore throat
  • mouth sores
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • weakness
  • nervousness
  • stomach pain

If you are experiencing any of these side effects, talk with your doctor to see if there may be a better alternative.

In addition, like any medication, there is a chance of allergic reaction when taking Claritin, which can result in rash, hives, or swelling of the face, throat, hands, arms, or feet. If you think you are having an allergic reaction or another medical emergency as a result of taking Claritin, then dial 9-1-1 for immediate medical assistance.

Does it make you drowsy?


Claritin does not make you drowsy when taken as directed. However, Claritin is an antihistamine and, like all antihistamines, may cause drowsiness when taken in high doses.

To prevent drowsiness and other side effects, only take Claritin as directed. Do not combine Claritin with alcohol or any sedative, as this may increase drowsiness.

How long does it take for Claritin to work?

For most people, Claritin begins to work within 3 hours. Once it starts working, it can last anywhere from 12-24 hours, depending on the type of Claritin allergy relief. Claritin-D contains the nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine and may start to relieve allergy symptoms in as little as 30 minutes.

Can You Take Claritin And Zyrtec Together?

You should not take Claritin and Zyrtec together. Both Claritin and Zyrtec are antihistamines, and taking these medications together can increase the risk of side effects as well as overdose. In addition, you should avoid taking Zyrtec or Claritin with alcohol or any other sedative.

Can you take Zyrtec and Claritin on the same day?

While you shouldn’t take Zyrtec and Claritin at the same time, you may be able to take Zyrtec and Claritin on the same day, depending on when you took your last dose. For instance, Claritin comes in both 12-hour and 24-hour tablets. So if you took Claritin for 12 hours in the morning and want to take Zyrtec that night, you may be able to. However, if taking Zyrtec or a 24-hour Claritin product, you should not take more than one dose of either medication over 24 hours.

Always talk with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new medication regimen, as both of these medications have the potential to interact with other drugs. For example, Zyrtec, in particular, may interact with certain benzodiazepines, and anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin, and antidepressants.

Zyrtec vs Claritin – What Is The Best Allergy Medicine?

Zyrtec and Claritin are two of the most popular over-the-counter allergy medications on the market. Both are effective at treating common allergy symptoms, offer 24-hour relief, and are available over the counter. In other words, it is mostly a matter of personal preference as to what is the best allergy medicine when comparing Zyrtec vs Claritin.

However, there are some key differences to be aware of when deciding which medication to use. Here are a few key differences to consider between Zyrtec vs Claritin:

  • Zyrtec seems to begin working faster (1hr vs 3hr)
  • Claritin has less sedating effects
  • Claritin is slightly higher priced (*Source – SingleCare)

In addition, Zyrtec interacts with a greater number of medications than Claritin, which may be an important consideration if you are taking other medications. Ultimately, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, and they will be able to help you decide which allergy medication is best for you based on your circumstances.


Can children take Zyrtec or Claritin?

Yes, both Zyrtec and Claritin have formulations designed for children. It’s important to follow the age guidelines and dosage instructions provided on the label or by a healthcare professional.

Are there any natural alternatives to Zyrtec and Claritin for allergies?

Some natural alternatives for managing allergy symptoms include using a saline nasal rinse, staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and incorporating honey or herbal teas into your diet. However, these methods may not be as effective as antihistamines for severe allergies.

Can I take Zyrtec or Claritin if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication, including Zyrtec or Claritin, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. They will assess the risks and benefits in your specific situation.

Do Zyrtec and Claritin interact with other common medications?

Both medications can interact with other drugs. It’s crucial to inform your doctor or pharmacist about all medications you’re currently taking to avoid potential interactions.

Are there any lifestyle changes that can help reduce allergy symptoms?

Yes, avoiding known allergens, keeping windows closed during high pollen seasons, using air purifiers, and regular cleaning to reduce dust and pet dander can help alleviate symptoms.

Final Words

Choosing between Zyrtec and Claritin depends on individual needs and responses. Both medications are effective for allergy relief, but differences in onset of action and potential side effects should be considered. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

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