Compare Sudafed vs. Zyrtec

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

Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)

Prescription or OTC

Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

Prescription or OTC
Clears your sinuses.

Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) relieves stuffy nose, but it could keep you up at night. Don't forget your photo ID or you won't be able to buy it in the drugstore.

5.3/ 7 average rating with 1740 reviewsforSudafed
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
  • One of the best over-the-counter options to clear stuffy nose and help you breathe better.
  • Clears nasal congestion better than other decongestants like phenylephrine.
  • Can be helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches and pressure in your ears.
  • Available in regular and extended release forms.
  • 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
  • Pseudoephedrine (a decongestant) can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
  • It can affect the quality of your sleep, so you can't take it too close to going to bed.
  • Can raise blood pressure so check with your doctor before using it if you have high blood pressure or other heart conditions.
  • Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) isn't as effective after using it for more than 4 days straight.
  • Need to show a photo ID to buy it in the drugstore and there is a limit on how much you can buy each visit.
  • 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
  • Extended release
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
No pricing information available
No pricing information available
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Reviews
1740 
82%
think this treatment is worth it
45%
think this treatment works well
6%
think this treatment is a hassle

Have you used Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)?

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 (Pseudoephedrine) 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

  • Heart problems

    History of heart problems

    ...and 1 more risk factors

  • Seizures

    History of seizures

  • 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