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Chlorpheniramine Maleate vs. Cetirizine Hydrochloride: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 26, 2024
Chlorpheniramine maleate is a first-generation antihistamine, while cetirizine hydrochloride is a second-generation antihistamine, both used for allergy relief.

Key Differences

Chlorpheniramine maleate, a first-generation antihistamine, is effective in treating allergic symptoms but can cause drowsiness. Cetirizine hydrochloride, a second-generation antihistamine, also treats allergies but with less sedative effects.
Chlorpheniramine maleate works by blocking histamine receptors, but can cross the blood-brain barrier, causing drowsiness. Cetirizine hydrochloride targets peripheral histamine receptors, reducing the likelihood of drowsiness.
The effectiveness of chlorpheniramine maleate in alleviating allergy symptoms can be hindered by its sedative properties. Cetirizine hydrochloride is preferred for those needing relief without significant sedation.
Chlorpheniramine maleate has a shorter duration of action, often requiring multiple doses throughout the day. Cetirizine hydrochloride has a longer-lasting effect, usually taken once daily.
Both chlorpheniramine maleate and cetirizine hydrochloride are used to treat common allergy symptoms, but the choice depends on individual needs regarding sedation and frequency of dosing.

Comparison Chart

Antihistamine Generation


Sedative Effects

Can cause drowsiness.
Less likely to cause drowsiness.

Blood-Brain Barrier Penetration

Can cross, affecting the central nervous system.
Less likely to cross, mainly affects peripheral receptors.

Duration of Action

Shorter, requires multiple doses.
Longer, usually once daily.


Effective for allergies but with sedative effects.
Effective for allergies with minimal sedation.

Chlorpheniramine Maleate and Cetirizine Hydrochloride Definitions

Chlorpheniramine Maleate

First-generation antihistamine.
As a first-generation antihistamine, chlorpheniramine maleate is very effective.

Cetirizine Hydrochloride

Less sedating than older antihistamines.
He preferred cetirizine hydrochloride as it didn't make him sleepy.

Chlorpheniramine Maleate

May require multiple daily doses.
She needed to take chlorpheniramine maleate three times a day.

Cetirizine Hydrochloride

Typically taken once daily.
Taking cetirizine hydrochloride once a day is convenient.

Chlorpheniramine Maleate

Can cause drowsiness.
Avoid driving after taking chlorpheniramine maleate due to drowsiness.

Cetirizine Hydrochloride

A second-generation antihistamine.
Cetirizine hydrochloride is my go-to for allergy relief.

Chlorpheniramine Maleate

An antihistamine for allergy relief.
She took chlorpheniramine maleate for her hay fever.

Cetirizine Hydrochloride

Low likelihood of crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Cetirizine hydrochloride is less likely to cause drowsiness compared to older antihistamines.

Chlorpheniramine Maleate

Treats sneezing, runny nose, and itching.
Chlorpheniramine maleate relieved his seasonal allergies.

Cetirizine Hydrochloride

Treats allergy symptoms effectively.
Her doctor recommended cetirizine hydrochloride for her pet allergies.


Does chlorpheniramine maleate cause drowsiness?

Yes, it's a common side effect.

What is chlorpheniramine maleate used for?

Treating allergic reactions like hay fever.

Is chlorpheniramine maleate effective against all allergies?

It's effective for common allergy symptoms.

How often should chlorpheniramine maleate be taken?

Typically, it's taken multiple times a day.

Is cetirizine hydrochloride sedating?

It's less sedating than first-generation antihistamines.

How often is cetirizine hydrochloride taken?

Usually once a day.

Can chlorpheniramine maleate be used by children?

Yes, but dosage should be pediatrician-approved.

What is cetirizine hydrochloride used for?

Mainly for allergy relief, including hay fever.

Is cetirizine hydrochloride safe for pregnant women?

Consult a doctor as it varies.

Can cetirizine hydrochloride cause any side effects?

Possible side effects include drowsiness and dry mouth.

Can cetirizine hydrochloride be used for long-term allergy management?

Yes, it's suitable for long-term use.

Is chlorpheniramine maleate a prescription drug?

It's available over-the-counter.

Does chlorpheniramine maleate affect driving?

Yes, due to its drowsiness effect.

Does chlorpheniramine maleate interact with other medications?

It can, especially sedatives and muscle relaxants.

Can cetirizine hydrochloride be taken with food?

Yes, it can be taken with or without food.

Can I take chlorpheniramine maleate for a cold?

It can relieve symptoms, but won't cure a cold.

Is cetirizine hydrochloride effective for skin allergies?

Yes, it can help with hives and itching.

Is cetirizine hydrochloride good for year-round allergies?

Yes, it's effective for both seasonal and perennial allergies.

Can I stop taking cetirizine hydrochloride abruptly?

Yes, but consult a doctor if it's been used long term.

How long does chlorpheniramine maleate take to work?

It usually starts working within an hour.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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