Prescription or OTCLower-cost generic available



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Treats allergy symptoms.

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Prescription or OTCLower-cost generic available

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

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

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  • 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).
  • 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.

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Side effects for Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

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These are side effects of Zyrtec (Cetirizine) reported to the FDA by people taking it, and by doctors and pharmacists.

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What to expect when you take Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

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Tips from our pharmacists
  • 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.

Risks and Warnings for Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

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  • There are many different over the counter medications with the brand name Zyrtec (Cetirizine). Each one may contain different active ingredients. Be sure to read the labels carefully to understand what kind of medicine you have and what the correct dose should be.

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Tips from pharmacists and people taking Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

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The FDA category for this medication is N. It is advised that you: Unknown
  • I have multiple allergies & Zyrtec keeps them under control year-round (along with Singulaire for food allergies & Flonase for pollen.) I like it because it doesn't make me woozy the way Claritin does. Best taken right before bed.
    Age: 48
    Gender: Woman
    Taken for: Year-round allergies
    Duration taken: Two years or more
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  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • 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.
  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • People age 65 and older have a higher risk of troublesome side effects from taking antihistamine medications like Zyrtec (Cetirizine). 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 (Cetirizine) and stop using it if you have side effects.
  • Take it at night to help with drowsiness.
    Age: 26
    Gender: Man
    Taken for: Seasonal allergies
    Duration taken: A couple weeks
  • I used to try Benadryl for my Chronic Idiopathic Hives with barely any help. Zyrtec does the trick and is completely non-drowsy. I was diagnosed about 7-8 years ago, and Zyrtec has helped ever since. Take it once daily as needed! Good luck
    Age: 23
    Gender: Woman
    Taken for: Chronic hives
  • Works great. Never drowsy from it.
    Age: 40
    Gender: Woman
    Taken for: Year-round allergies