Compare Zyrtec vs. Phenylephrine

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

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Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

Prescription or OTC

Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)

Prescription or OTC
Treats allergy symptoms.

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

3.8/ 5 average rating with 1232 reviewsforZyrtec
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.

3.1/ 5 average rating with 164 reviewsforPhenylephrine
Upsides
  • 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).
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
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Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Liquid capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
Price
No pricing information available
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Reviews
1232 reviews so far
76%
saidit'sworth it
47%
saiditworked well
7%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Zyrtec (Cetirizine)?

Leave a review
164 reviews so far
44%
saidit'sworth it
24%
saiditworked well
10%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)?

Leave a review
Side effects
The Zyrtec (Cetirizine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Taking the wrong medication
  • Increased side effects
    • Age 65 or older
  • Driving impairment
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Overdosage
    • Current kidney disease
    • Current liver disease
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • High blood pressure
    • History of high blood pressure
    • Taking MAO inhibitors
  • Heart problems
    • History of heart problems
    • Age 65 years or older
  • Harm to fetus
    • Women of childbearing age
See more detailed risks and warnings