THanZyrtec vs.Claritin For Kids

Updated on February 29, 2012
M.W. asks from Crystal Lake, IL
20 answers

Hi Moms,
My 9 year-old son was diagnosed by his pediatrician with seasonal allergies and asthma last Spring. He took Zyrtec in the Spring and Fall along with Flonase nasal spray . He also uses an albuterol inhaler on an as needed basis. I also tried switching to Claritin because the Zyrtec was making him sleepy. My question is, is there an alternative to Zyrtec/Claritin with minimal side effects? I did not notice a huge difference when he was taking either one of these, and he was having behavioral issues in school this past fall possibly because of the Claritin. He was out of his seat alot and not focusing. He quit taking it after the he has impoved in school...not sure if it has anything to do with medication, or if it is just him trying harder. Now that Spring is approaching, I have debated about taking him to an allergist. He is very afraid of needles. He would run out of the office. Plus, I talked to another mom who went to an allergist and they poked her son's back all over.....after all of it...he is on Singular and daily Zyrtec. So.....I am thinking about talking to his Pediatrcian about alternatives to try. Just wondering if anyone has any insight on this or experienced something similar. I read about something called Xyzal a prescription alternative to Zyrtec.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for sharing your insight. I have decided to wait on seeing an allergist. I am pretty sure pollen is the bigest culprit here. I have scheduled a consultation appointment with the pediatrician to discuss alternative treatment options like Allegra, and I am very interested in the local honey idea. It makes perfect sense really! How do you find it? Healthfood stores? I would much rather treat him as minimally as possible with medication. I have all the allergy mattress pads/pillow covers etc. I am not a fan of Singular for children. I am a person who reads all the fine print that comes with the medication.....Singular can cause agression and depression in children and that is a little scary to me. So.....thanks again for your comments.

Featured Answers



answers from Honolulu on

Zyrtec (for me), makes me feel icky/irritable/tired. I don't like it.
Claritin works for me. And it is non-drowsy.

Albuterol, can make any adult or child, a bit "hyper."
I take Albuterol, for Asthma.
The dosage.. .is important. Do not, over dose or give too much thinking more is better.

The Flonase could also be affecting him. Only use it, as needed.
Flonase, is a "Corticosteroid." That is why.

There is also "Allegra" for allergies. Similar to Claritin etc.

Claritin does NOT cause "hyperness" in me. Nor in anyone I know.

AND when taking ALL of these things, at the same time... it may cause.... other side effects. It being, the child gets "hyper" or irritable.

If taking an allergy med such as Claritin or Zyrtec or Allegra or Singular, there is no reason to take 2 of them at the same time. That will be too much dosage for a tiny body.
Flonase is for the nose.
Claritin etc. is an antihistamine, thus use for allergies.
Albuterol, is for the lungs... per asthma.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

for one of my daughters Claritin was the key, for the other it was Zyrtec, so it depends on the kid apparently

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

The third drug in the same category as claritin and zyrtec is allegra. I can't predict what the side effects would be for your child, but you could try it and watch him to see.

There is also singulaire - it is in a totally different drug category (it treats allergies, but in a totally different way than the other drugs).

What our pediatric allergist did was help us test out all the different treatments, one at a time, until we found ones that worked for my son. We did not do skin testing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Everyone reacts differently to medications, so I am not sure there is one BEST one. My 4 year old takes Singular ever day for seasonal allergies (was allergy tested) and asthma symptoms. He does really well - no side effects - and when I've taken him off - he gets really stuffy etc. It works for him.I would take him to an allergist so you know what allergy you are treating... the prick test is not painful at all. Best of luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My daughter has bad allergies. I had to have her checked at the age of 8. They pricked her forearms 30 times. It was tough but she was a trooper. She started on allegra. Then we moved to the hill country and it got worse and she had to go in for weekly shots. OUCH! That was painful,but once again, she overcame. The best thing about the allergy testing is that you know what is that your child is allergic too. What if it's something that you can change??
Now all the seasonal medication is over the counter. Her allergies have gotten much better. Allegra barely does anything for her any more, and she does better on Zyrtec. I take Claritin because I feel it helps with the itchy eyes better. BUT if I am really bad I will take Zyrtec and it will knock it out faster. (stop the sneezing and dripping nose)
I don't think that your sons behavior has anything to do with the Zyrtec or Claritin. I agree with S.H. that is is more than likely the nasal spray or asthma meds.
Good Luck and BLESSINGS!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

My kids don't have allergies but if they did, I'd give them a spoonful of local honey each day. I've heard that builds up their tolerance to pollen and such...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I take my son to the allergist yearly. The initial diagnosis using the scratch/needle test can be intimidating but it is really not that bad! If you can handle it I recommend you take your son to an allergist.
That said, if you don't son was on Zyrtec for 3 years and Flonase for the last of those years. He has pretty bad spring allergies and mild fall allergies. Last year our doc made a switch based on the lackluster results the medication was providing. So, last year he began taking Allegra and prescription eye drops (bepreve). We saw a marked improvement.
Just a note, though, I follow a lot of the suggestions made by the doctors. I keep my son indoors until 10am...I have to drive him to school during allergy season. We keep all windows closed before 10am and after 5pm. We never open my sons bedroom window or leave his door open during the spring and fall allergy season. Lastly, my son showers almost every night before bed during those times. Best wishes!
ETA: I noticed that others mentioned that the 3 big brands Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra have different main ingredients that will target different types of allergies. Thought it would be helpful to mention that my sons eyes suffer tremendously during the spring and the switch to Allegra and Bepreve made a huge difference.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Xyzal is not really an alternative to Zyrtec. It is made by the same company and is only a tiny bit different - just enough different that they could get a new patent. That is what my allergist told me.
How old is your son? If they had him taking the adult dosage of zyrtec, try the children's version. My Mom has seasonal allergies and regular zyrtec makes her very sleepy - the children's version helps her, but doesn't make her sleepy. They also suggest giving zrytec at night if you are using the 24 hour version (without the decongestant) to minimize the daytime drowsiness.

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answers from Dallas on

My son takes both Allegra and Claritan (dr ordered). He takes 24 hr claritan in the morning, then if he needs another dose before soccer practice or bed he takes a 12 hr allegra. We also give him a tablespoon of local honey every morning. If we are diligent about the local honey it works better than both meds combined. If your son has severe seasonal allergies I would highly recommend finding some local (within 25 miles or so) honey and having him take a tablespoon or two of that a day.

Oh, and about behavior, I can't take zyrtec - makes me crazy moody. DS can take it, but we stay away just because of what it does to me. So it is possible it's affecting your son. Heck, even the drowsy/foggy feeling some antihistimines can have could cause behavior issues just cause he doesn't feel like himself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I urge you to take him to an allergist. My daughter has allergies as well as asthma and the allergist is able to keep all the meds in balance. She was taking one and it didn't seem to work and he prescribed a different one that was made from a different chemical. I don't remember the names.

An allergist knows more about allergies and the effect of medications than most pediatricians. He also knows how to work with kids who are afraid of needles.

The only medication that had a significant side effect was Singular. It made her hyper and less able to focus. This is a rare side effect but the allergist said it's possible. He switched her to another one. When her asthma worsened he then switched her to a different one, again.
The different meds have different ingredients.

Zyrtec and Alavert contains Cetirizine
Claritin contains Loratidine
Allegra contains Ferofenadine HCl
Xyzal contains Levocetirizine

Singulair is an entirely different class of allergy medication.

Here is a site from Consumer Reports that compare products.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My first thought - you definitely need to see an allergist. Pediatricians only know so much about allergies and asthma.

Bloodwork is not a good test until about the age of 10 so they will more than likely do the skin/scratch test.

Claritin did not seem to be working for my daughter so I asked about Zyrtec. I was told that Claritin is considered superior to Zyrtec because Zyrtec has a 10% sedation rate. I was told that I could try it but to give it to her at bedtime. It does seem to be working better for her so maybe change the time which you give it to him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I tried both of them for my daughter who is 3 and also has seasonal allergies. I found both had side effects. My doctor suggested Allegra. It seems to work the best....and I don't notice any side effects! Talk to your doc and see if he suggests it! Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I talked to the pharmacist about bahaviors associated with allergy meds. You should too.

The man said it is the #1 side effect but they won't count it as one since it is a right...bad behavior in a child is how they normally want to be....

Anyway, he said that if you think about how allergy meds make you feel you'll start to understand the issues.

Any allergy med is going to totally dry you out. Make you sleepy, feel crappy, is effecting your whole body because the whole body is reacting to the allergen.

If you need to give your child a medication on a daily basis such as an allergy med then start with 1/4 dose. If that works do NOT increase it until it isn't any more, then go to 1/2 dose. They should never have to use a full dose unless they are on the brink of a severe allergy attack and they may need the inhaler or an eppi pen around for that.

I took this to heart and when I am having allergies I buy liquid children's benedryl. I take 1 tsp instead of 4 tsp. It works exceptionally well. If I am having itching, eyes running, snotty nose, then I might take up to 2 tsp. which as still half a dose.

I do this with the kids meds too. I use a nebulizer instead of an inhaler for them because the med is mixed with sterile water in the vial that we put in the machine. It gives them extra moisture in their nose, throat, and lungs. I feel like it helps them a lot more than just an inhaler. I have 2 portable nebulizers that we carry with us all the time.

They are Pari brand and are wonderful. The kids use Xophenex and we adults use Albuterol. They both do wonders for helping us to be not so dry and still able to breath better.

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answers from Boston on

I doubt that the behavior issues in school were related to Claritin in any way. All of my kids and I have been on it and it doesn't seem to affect mood or behavior.

My oldest has been on everything. He was on Claritin for years but it stopped working as well, so then he tried Allegra and Zyrtec. None of them is great on his worst days, but they help. On his worst days, he takes Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec and eye drops and still his eyes can swell shut.

The benefit of allergy testing is knowing what he's allergic to and when that pollen is at its worst, assuming there are some pollen allergies in play. But you're right in that they don't change the medication, it's all more or less the same thing and all available OTC now or through your pediatrician if there is anything that is still prescription only. Our pediatric allergist can test for 32 allergens at one using skin-prick paddles. Yes it's 32 points, but they are just tapped lightly against the back all at once so the kids feel a pinch for a second and then it's over. It's not one scratch at a time. We had this done 10 years ago so it's not like it's new technology - any pediatric allergist should be able to test this way, so ask about it if you do decide to find out what, specifically, he is allergic to.

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answers from New Orleans on

My kids(2 in a half,4 in a half and 5 in a half) are all of zyrtec prescribe by their dr. Usually its been good for them. Was told by their dr. to give it to them at bedtime b/c it does make them sleepy. I take clartin for my allergies,because its safer with my medicine I'm taking.

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answers from Milwaukee on

Xyzal is the prescription version of Zyrtec, but it's very $$$$ even with son was on that until our insurance changed and it was going to cost us over $120/mo. Our ENT and allergist said just go with OTC zyrtec.

My husband and I take zyrtec, but also supplement with Allegra-they are different drugs and are better for different allergies. I find the Allegra helps with my itchy eyes from dog hair, while zyrtec is my overall allergy med.

The allergy panel doesn't hurt-it's one batch of pokes in the back all at the same time and they just feel like a little prick. The bigger trick is staying still for 20 minutes and not touching your back because some spots start to itch.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Another alternative would be to try chiropactic care. I have seen excellent results with kids and allergies in the office. If the child's immune system is not functioning optimally, they can get abnormal responses, like allergies. My office (Oak Park) is probably to far for you but to find someone with a family practice check out or
Feel free to call the office with questions ###-###-####, best of luck

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answers from Raleigh on

My 5 year old has environmental and food allergies. We were on Claritin and it wasn't working that great, esp during spring allergy season. Our allergist told us that Zyrtec is stronger, and I myself have found it to be way more effective. Since it does make them sleepier, the key to Zyrtec is to take the full dose BEFORE bed at night, not in the morning.
Also, the allergist isn't so bad. They don't actually come at you with big long needles or anything. The apparatus they use feels like a little pricks, and doesn't even draw blood. You really need to find out everything he is allergic to so you can learn to avoid it. That is really the most important and effective thing you can do to really help him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

If you aren't happy with how he is feeling on one of the medications, talk to his doctor about alternatives. Claritin: "loratadine". Zyrtec is a different drug. It is Cetirizine. And Allegra (another option for your son perhaps?) is yet another drug: Fexofenadine hydrochloride. They are all antihistimines but they are not the same drug. So yes, his side effects can be different with each one.

And some are more effective for some people than others. So if what your son was using isn't working for him, for whatever reason, talk to his doctor about switching to another product.

ETA: forgot about the pinprick aspect of your post. You don't HAVE to do it via needle/pin pricks. They can do a blood workup if you'd rather. Our son had it done about 2 years ago, when he was 11. They were drawing some anyway for a routine cholesterol screening (after fasting) for his routine annual physical. (Very thorough doctor)... so we just went ahead and let them draw a little more. I think they needed a total of 3 vials to do all the bloodwork (cholesterol screening and allergy panel).... which was a lot of blood for kid. He passed out for a second (no big deal)... but it was probably more related to the fasting and seeing the vials of blood, lol. As soon as they were done, he drank some water and had a Kashi cereal bar (while still sitting in the blood draw chair) and he was fine. Took maybe 2 weeks to get the results... trees, grasses, weeds, mold. Yep. All of them. But we got an exact reading on HOW reactive he was to EACH one/variety. Not allergic to goldenrod, but look out for the oak trees and rye grass...YIKES. They're everywhere around here.

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answers from Chicago on

I personally take Allegra (now OTC) in the evenings along with Singulair. If Allegra stops working for me I switch to Claritin for a month or two & when I need to add a nasal spray. I used to use Zyrtec but found that I was drowsy so this is a last resort that I haven't touched in over two years. In speaking with others, they all had same experience personally or with their kids with Zyrtec. I have not heard of behavioral problems with any - my kids have taken Claritin.

I love Singulair - before I was on it I would get a sinus infection and have to go on antibiotics right away - now I can fight it off over 75% of the time. I know that kids can take this too. I am not asthmatic - I take it for my allergies - ask your doctor if this may help - this isn't cheap but well worth it for me in my opinion. I know many people who take it and also say the same. No complaints on side affects either.

Diet may be causing your kid to be exhibiting behaviors as well - sugar? preservatives? food dyes? etc.. what was fine when he was younger may be causing issues down - so try reducing processed foods especially before school and see.
Sleep issues/quality?
Not sure what grade your child is in, but some years can very challenging and perhaps he is reacting to the workload or other children & their behavior or the teacher?
Good luck and keep a diary of behavior & health as you try to explore what else may be going on in the classroom (some days I wish I could be peeking in for sure!).

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