Compare Phenylephrine vs. Zyrtec

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)

Prescription or OTC

Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

Prescription or OTC
Clears your sinuses.

Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a good medication for relieving stuffy nose. It doesn't work as well as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), but it has fewer side effects.

4.2/ 7 average rating with 164 reviewsforPhenylephrine
Treats allergy symptoms.

Zyrtec (Cetirizine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that won't make you feel too sleepy.

5.2/ 7 average rating with 1232 reviewsforZyrtec
Upsides
  • Works to clear nasal congestion and helps you breathe better.
  • Helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches.
  • Has fewer side effects than other decongestants like pseudoephedrine.
  • It doesn't raise your blood pressure and heart rate as much, or cause as much trouble falling asleep.
  • Doesn't give you rebound congestion (worse symptoms when you stop taking it) like nasal spray decongestants do.
  • 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
  • Phenylephrine doesn't last as long as other decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
  • You shouldn't use it if you have high blood pressure.
  • Can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
  • Not as effective after using it for 4 days in a row.
  • 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.
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
Price
Lowest price near you
$17.3
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Reviews
164 
44%
think this treatment is worth it
24%
think this treatment works well
10%
think this treatment is a hassle

Have you used Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)?

Leave a review
1232 
76%
think this treatment is worth it
47%
think this treatment works well
7%
think this treatment is a hassle

Have you used Zyrtec (Cetirizine)?

Leave a review
Side effects
The Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Zyrtec (Cetirizine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and warnings
  • High blood pressure

    History of high blood pressure

    ...and 1 more risk factors

  • Heart problems

    History of heart problems

    ...and 1 more risk factors

  • Harm to fetus

    Women of childbearing age

See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Increased side effects

    Age 65 or older

  • Driving impairment

    Taking with alcohol

    ...and 1 more risk factors

  • Overdosage

    Current kidney disease

    ...and 1 more risk factors

See more detailed risks and warnings