Compare Zyrtec vs. Sudafed

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

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Zyrtec (cetirizine)

Over-the-counter

Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)

Prescription or OTC
Treats allergy symptoms.

Zyrtec (cetirizine) can help you with some allergy symptoms without making you very drowsy.

3.8/ 5 average rating with 1232 reviewsforZyrtec
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.

3.9/ 5 average rating with 1740 reviewsforSudafed
Upsides
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) works to treat sneezing and runny nose, and causes less sedation compared to Benadryl.
  • 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 relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) has few drug interactions with other medicines.
  • Most people don't get any side effects from Zyrtec (cetirizine).
  • 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.
Downsides
  • Although it works fast, Zyrtec (cetirizine)'s effectiveness wears off for some people over time.
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) can make you a little more sleepy compared to Allegra or Claritin.
  • Some people find that other more sedating antihistamines, like Benadryl (diphenhydramine), are more effective for them than Zyrtec (cetirizine).
  • 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.
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Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Liquid
Price
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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
1740 reviews so far
82%
saidit'sworth it
45%
saiditworked well
6%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)?

Leave a review
Side effects
The Zyrtec (cetirizine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Increased side effects in the elderly
    • Age 65 or older
  • Impaired alertness
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • History of liver or kidney conditions
    • History of liver or kidney disease
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • High blood pressure
    • History of high blood pressure
  • Heart problems
    • History of heart problems
    • Age 65 years or older
  • Seizures
    • History of seizures
  • Harm to fetus
    • Women of childbearing age
See more detailed risks and warnings