Compare Zyrtec D vs. Phenylephrine

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

Zyrtec D
(cetirizine / pseudoephedrine)

Sudafed Pe
(phenylephrine)

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.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.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.09Zyrtec D
Reviews for Zyrtec D
75%
of people (All ages) say Zyrtec D is worth it
43%
say it works well
9%
say it's a big hassle
927 reviews
Have you used Zyrtec D (cetirizine / pseudoephedrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Phenylephrine
44%
+31% better vs. Zyrtec D
24%
+19% better vs. Zyrtec D
10%
+1% better vs. Zyrtec D
164 reviews
Have you used Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine

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 Phenylephrine side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Phenylephrine »
How it works
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
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.Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.
Type of medication
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
Prescription or OTCPrescription or OTC
Available as
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
  • Extended release
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
Used for
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
Risk factors for serious side effects
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
  • History of high blood pressure
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 or older
  • History of seizure
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Zyrtec D (cetirizine / pseudoephedrine) risks & warnings »
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking MAO inhibitors
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

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.

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.

Kidneys and liver
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
  • 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 kidneys and liver related info.
Sleep
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
  • The antihistamine (Cetirizine) in Zyrtec D (Cetirizine / Pseudoephedrine) causes less drowsiness than other medications like Benadryl.
  • 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.
No sleep related info.
Upsides and benefits
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
  • 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.
  • 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.
Downsides and risks
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
  • 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.
  • 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.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
Zyrtec DPhenylephrine
  • 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.
  • Starts working in 30 minutes.
  • Phenylephrine can make you restless, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
  • It's in other cold and flu combination medicines. Read labels closely so you don't accidentally double up and take too much of it in a day.
  • Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take.
  • Let your doctor know if your symptoms don't improve in a few days.
Learn more
More about Zyrtec DSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Zyrtec D (cetirizine / pseudoephedrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about PhenylephrineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it