Comparing Two Popular Antihistamines Taken for Allergies


Antihistamines pic


Ashok Pinnamaraju is a Roanoke, Virginia-based pharmacist who emphasizes quality service in fulfilling prescription and nonprescription orders. Ashok Pinnamaraju strives to provide knowledgable advice on a full range of medications, while recommending that people consult with their physicians for definitive answers to questions regarding the medications they’ve been prescribed.

A recent Healthline article explores over the counter allergy drugs by comparing two popular choices, Claritin and Zyrtec. Both are nonsedating antihistamines marketed as having similar effects of calming the immune system and reducing the overactivity that causes many allergic reactions.

The active ingredients of the two drugs are different, with Claritin containing loratadine and Zyrtec cetirizine. A major practical difference between the drugs is that cetirizine is fast acting and typically takes effect within an hour. By contrast, loratadine requires more time to take effect but remains in the system for an extended period of up to 24 hours.

With serious side effects extremely rare, both antihistamines share a number of mild side effects that include sore throat, dry mouth, headache, and stomach pain. Both may also cause the drowsiness traditionally associated with antihistamines, although newer formulations make that much less of a problem than in the past.

Claritin and Zyrtec do present the possibility of more serious side effects, including swelling in the throat and mouth region, hives, difficulty breathing, and an elevated heart rate. In these cases, a physician should be consulted immediately to ensure that a serious health risk is not involved.