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Coming soon.Treats allergy symptoms. Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that won't make you feel too sleepy.
How it works
Coming soon.Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. Antihistamines can also make you sleepy, but Zyrtec is a low-drowsiness version.
Type of medication
Coming soon.
2nd generation
Prescription or OTC
Available as
  • Eye drops
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
  • Allergic conjunctivitis
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Side effects

We haven’t found good data for Elestat side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Elestat »

We haven’t found good data for Zyrtec side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Zyrtec »
Risk factors for serious side effects
  • Coming soon.
Pregnancy category

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

See the FDA package insert
NFDA pregnancy category (Unknown)
No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
  • People with kidney or liver disease may need to take a lower dose of Zyrtec (Cetirizine) to prevent overdose. Talk with your doctor to be sure you are using the correct dose.
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
Coming soon.
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine) works as well as other antihistamines to treat sneezing and runny nose, but causes less sedation.
  • Works well to also treat hives and itchy skin.
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is available over the counter without a prescription.
  • It comes as a tablet, liquid, and quick-dissolving tablet.
  • It can provide quick relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • It's okay to take with most other medications because it has few drug interactions.
  • Most people don't get any side effects from Zyrtec (Cetirizine).
Downsides and risks
Coming soon.
  • Although it works fast, its effectiveness wears off for some people over time.
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine) can be slightly more sedating than Allegra or Claritin.
  • Some people find that other more sedating antihistamines, like Benadryl, are more effective for them than Zyrtec (Cetirizine).
  • If you have daily allergy symptoms, a prescription nasal steroid spray might be better for you long-term.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
Coming soon.
  • Starts working in a few hours. Only take it once a day.
  • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
  • Avoid some of the side effects by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated liquids.
  • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor about trying a nasal steroid instead since it might work better for you long-term.
  • Using an antihistamine eye drop instead can also work better to treat itchy or watery eyes.
Learn more
More about ElestatSide effectsFDA package insert
More about ZyrtecSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
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