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Zyrtec vs. Claritin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 20, 2023
Zyrtec (cetirizine) and Claritin (loratadine) are antihistamines used to treat allergy symptoms, but Zyrtec may work faster and cause drowsiness more often.

Key Differences

Zyrtec, also known by its generic name cetirizine, and Claritin, or loratadine, are both antihistamines. They're primarily used to combat allergic reactions by blocking the effects of histamine, a substance produced by the body during an allergic response.
Zyrtec generally begins to work within an hour of ingestion and is known for its quick relief. In contrast, Claritin might take longer to start reducing allergy symptoms but can provide 24-hour relief just like Zyrtec. Both are effective in managing symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchiness.
One notable difference is the potential side effects. While both Zyrtec and Claritin are considered non-sedating antihistamines, Zyrtec might cause drowsiness in some people more frequently than Claritin. It's essential for individuals to understand how either medication affects them, especially if they're operating machinery or driving.
Both Zyrtec and Claritin can be found in various forms, including tablets, liquid gels, and dissolving tablets for adults and children. The choice between them often comes down to individual preference, specific symptoms, and how one's body reacts to each medication.

Comparison Chart

Generic Name


Onset of Action

Usually within an hour
Might take longer than Zyrtec

Common Side Effect

May cause drowsiness more frequently
Less likely to cause drowsiness


Provides 24-hour relief
Provides 24-hour relief

Available Forms

Tablets, liquid gels, chewables
Tablets, liquid gels, dissolvable tablets, syrup

Zyrtec and Claritin Definitions


A medication known by its generic name, cetirizine.
If cetirizine doesn't work for you, try its branded counterpart, Zyrtec.


A medication offering 24-hour relief from allergy symptoms.
One Claritin in the morning keeps his allergies at bay all day.


An over-the-counter allergy medication known to work within an hour.
Within an hour of taking Zyrtec, her sneezing ceased.


A widely recognized brand name for the drug loratadine.
The pharmacist said loratadine is the generic version of Claritin.


An antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms.
After taking Zyrtec, her hay fever symptoms diminished.


A non-sedating antihistamine suitable for daily use.
He prefers Claritin because it doesn't make him sleepy.


A drug offering relief from hay fever, hives, and similar allergic reactions.
For hives, my doctor recommended Zyrtec.


Available in various forms to cater to adults and children alike.
She bought Claritin chewables for her child's hay fever.


A potential drowsiness-causing antihistamine.
She avoids driving after taking Zyrtec due to potential drowsiness.


An antihistamine formulated to treat allergic reactions.
Claritin is her go-to for springtime allergies.


Which one is more likely to cause drowsiness?

While both are non-sedating antihistamines, Zyrtec might cause drowsiness more often than Claritin.

What is Zyrtec?

Zyrtec is an antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms, with cetirizine as its active ingredient.

Is Zyrtec faster acting than Claritin?

Zyrtec generally starts working within an hour, potentially faster than Claritin.

Can I consume alcohol while on Zyrtec?

Alcohol may amplify drowsiness caused by Zyrtec. It's advised to be cautious.

Can Zyrtec treat hives?

Yes, Zyrtec can help in treating hives and skin itching.

Is Claritin suitable for children?

Yes, Claritin has formulations and dosages specifically designed for children.

Are there any age restrictions for using Zyrtec or Claritin?

Both drugs have age-specific dosages. It's essential to follow label recommendations or consult a doctor.

What is Claritin used for?

Claritin, containing loratadine, is used to treat symptoms of allergies like sneezing, itching, and a runny nose.

Is drowsiness common with Zyrtec?

Some people may experience drowsiness with Zyrtec, though it's considered a non-sedating antihistamine.

Is Claritin available without a prescription?

Yes, Claritin is available over the counter without a prescription.

Do Zyrtec and Claritin have any interactions with other drugs?

While interactions are minimal, always consult a doctor or pharmacist before combining Zyrtec or Claritin with other medications.

Is Claritin safe for pregnant women?

Claritin is generally considered safe during pregnancy, but always consult a healthcare provider.

Can I take both Zyrtec and Claritin together?

Taking both might increase the risk of side effects. Consult a healthcare professional.

Do Zyrtec and Claritin treat the same symptoms?

Yes, both Zyrtec and Claritin are designed to treat allergy symptoms.

Are there any significant interactions for Claritin?

Claritin has few known drug interactions, but always consult a pharmacist or doctor.

How often can I take Claritin?

Claritin is usually taken once daily for 24-hour relief.

Is there a generic version of Zyrtec?

Yes, the generic name for Zyrtec is cetirizine.

Does Claritin provide 24-hour relief?

Yes, Claritin can provide relief from allergy symptoms for up to 24 hours.

Can I drive after taking Zyrtec?

If Zyrtec makes you drowsy, it's advised to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery.

Are there any common side effects of Zyrtec?

Besides drowsiness, other side effects of Zyrtec might include dry mouth and stomach pain.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
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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