Compare Zyrtec D vs. Benadryl

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

Zyrtec D
(Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine)

Benadryl
(Diphenhydramine)

Relieves congestion and allergy symptoms. Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) relieves allergies and congestion without causing daytime sleepiness. It can keep you up at night if you take it too close to bedtime.Treats allergy symptoms and helps you sleep. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is great for allergies, but curl up on the couch after taking it and get ready for a nap.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.084233261339093Zyrtec D
Reviews for Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine)
75%
of people say Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) is worth it
43%
say it works well
9%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)
85%
+10% vs. Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine)
57%
+14% vs. Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine)
8%
+1% vs. Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine)
Side effects
Zyrtec DBenadryl

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

FDA side effect reports for Zyrtec D »

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

FDA side effect reports for Benadryl »
How it works
Zyrtec DBenadryl
Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) is a combination medicine for allergies. Cetirizine (an antihistamine) prevents allergy symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes or skin. Pseudoephedrine (a decongestant) clears your sinuses.Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. It also makes you sleepy.
Type of medication
Zyrtec DBenadryl
Antihistamine
2nd generation
DecongestantPrescription or OTC
Antihistamine
1st generation
Prescription or OTC
Available as
Zyrtec DBenadryl
  • Extended release
  • Pill
  • Oral solution
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
Used for (click to learn more)
Zyrtec DBenadryl
Risk factors for serious side effects
Zyrtec DBenadryl
  • History of high blood pressure
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 or older
  • History of seizure
  • Women of childbearing age
    • Age 65 years or older
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
    • Current kidney disease
    • Current liver disease
    Detailed Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) risks & warnings »
    • Using other drugs with the same ingredients
    • Age 65 years or older
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
    • Children age 6 years and younger
    • Enlarged prostate
    • History of bladder problems
    • Glaucoma
    • Nursing mothers
    Detailed Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) risks & warnings »
    Pregnancy category
    Zyrtec DBenadryl
    NFDA pregnancy category (Unknown)

    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
    BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

    Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

    See the FDA package insert
    Alcohol
    No specific alcohol-related info.
    • Don't take it with alcohol or other drugs that make you sleepy.
    Food
    No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
    Kidneys and liver
    • People with kidney or liver disease may need to take a lower dose of Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) to prevent overdose. Talk with your doctor to be sure you are using the correct dose.
    No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
    Sex
    No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
    Sleep
    • The antihistamine (Cetirizine) can cause more drowsiness than similar antihistamines, like Allegra D (which contains Fexofenadine) and Claritin D (which contains Loratadine).
    • You might not sleep as well due to Pseudoephedrine's effects and you can also have strange dreams while taking it.
    • The antihistamine (Cetirizine) in Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) causes less drowsiness than other medications like Benadryl.
    • It's better to take Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) early in the morning or when you wake up, otherwise you can have trouble sleeping later.
    • People age 65 and older have a higher risk of troublesome side effects from taking antihistamine medications like Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine). Watch out for changes in vision, severe dry mouth, trouble urinating, or constipation. Also, feelings of drowsiness may leave you "unsteady" on your feet. This can make you more likely to fall causing broken bones or other serious injuries. Talk with your doctor before using Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) and stop using it if you have side effects.
    • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you tired, so take it before you go to sleep.
    • People age 65 years and older have a higher risk of side effects from taking antihistamine medications like Benadryl (Diphenhydramine). Watch for changes in vision, severe dry mouth, trouble urinating, or constipation. The drowsiness caused by Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) can make you "unsteady" on your feet, leading to a higher chance of falls.
    Weight
    No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
    Upsides and benefits
    Zyrtec DBenadryl
    • The antihistamine (Cetirizine) in Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) causes less drowsiness than other medications like Benadryl.
    • The decongestant (Pseudoephedrine) in Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) is stronger than other decongestants. It can also help relieve congestion-related headaches and ear pressure.
    • The stimulant effects of Pseudoephedrine can give you some extra energy during the day.
    • Doesn't give you rebound congestion (worse congestion symptoms after you stop taking the medicine) like decongestant nose sprays can.
    • It's available without a prescription, unlike other strong allergy medicines.
    • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is often better than other antihistamines at treating allergy symptoms and hives.
    • It can provide quick relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
    • It makes you sleepy, so it'll help if your allergies are bothering you at night.
    • The effects wear off in 4 to 6 hours, so side effects don't last that long.
    • It comes as a tablet, capsule, liquid, and quick dissolving tablet.
    Downsides and risks
    Zyrtec DBenadryl
    • You can have more side effects when using combination pills than when using single-ingredient medications.
    • The antihistamine (Cetirizine) can cause more drowsiness than similar antihistamines, like Allegra D (which contains Fexofenadine) and Claritin D (which contains Loratadine).
    • The decongestant (Pseudoephedrine) can make your heart race or give you anxious or restless feelings.
    • You might not sleep as well due to Pseudoephedrine's effects and you can also have strange dreams while taking it.
    • Pseudoephedrine can raise your blood pressure, so don't take it if you have high blood pressure or other heart conditions.
    • Although you don't need a prescription, you do need to show a photo ID to buy this from behind the pharmacy counter.
    • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you more tired than Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec.
    • You shouldn't drive after taking Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) until you know how it affects you.
    • Talk to a pediatrician before giving Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) to a child.
    • It can increase the risk of falls, so elderly people shouldn't use Benadryl (Diphenhydramine).
    • Don't use Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) if you are breastfeeding.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    Zyrtec DBenadryl
    • Starts working in 30 minutes.
    • You need to show an ID to buy Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) in the drugstore because it contains Pseudoephedrine.
    • Don't cut, crush, or chew tablets; swallow them whole.
    • It's better to take Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) early in the morning or when you wake up, otherwise you can have trouble sleeping later.
    • Can cause an irregular or fast heartbeat, and can raise your blood pressure.
    • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor since a different medication might work better for you.
    • Take it as needed every 4 to 6 hours.
    • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) can make you dehydrated, so avoid this side effect by drinking plenty of fluids.
    • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you tired, so take it before you go to sleep.
    • Don't take it with alcohol or other drugs that make you sleepy.
    • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor. A different medication might work better for you long-term.
    • If you only have itchy or watery eyes, try using just an antihistamine eye drop.
    Learn more
    More about Zyrtec DSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    More about BenadrylSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert