Flonase vs Zyrtec

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For individuals suffering from allergies, certain medications can help manage symptoms by targeting different compounds in the body known as histamines that contribute to allergic reactions. Flonase and Zyrtec are two such drugs that are commonly used for relief of allergy symptoms. They both work on histamines but have different mechanisms of action and areas of impact.

Flonase is a corticosteroid nasal spray, which primarily works by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. It targets multiple inflammatory substances, not just histamines, providing comprehensive relief from typical allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy or runny nose.

Zyrtec, on the other hand, is an oral antihistamine medication. Its primary function is to inhibit histamine activity in the body thereby relieving symptoms like itching and hives that may occur all over the body due to allergies.

What is Flonase?

Fluticasone propionate (the generic name for Flonase) was a significant development in the class of corticosteroid drugs used to treat allergic rhinitis. It was first approved by the FDA in 1994. Flonase works by reducing inflammation and swelling in the nose, effectively alleviating symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes. This nasal spray is typically prescribed for relieving seasonal allergies or perennial allergies.

Cetirizine hydrochloride (Zyrtec), on the other hand, belongs to a different class of medication known as antihistamines and is available over-the-counter without prescription since its approval by the FDA in 2001. Zyrtec operates systemically to block histamine receptors throughout your body thereby easing multiple allergy symptoms including those affecting eyes and skin.

While both are effective at managing allergy symptoms, their mechanism of action differs significantly with each targeting different components involved in an allergic reaction; this results in them having differing side effects profiles - while Zyrtec may induce drowsiness due to its systemic action on histamine receptors across several parts of your body including brain where these receptors help maintain wakefulness; fluticasone being a local treatment has less chance inducing such systemic side effect but can cause nasal irritation or bleeding if used excessively.

What conditions is Flonase approved to treat?

Flonase is approved for the treatment of various allergy-related symptoms, including:

  • Seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy and runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy and watery eyes

It's also effective in managing nasal symptoms associated with non-allergic (vasomotor) rhinitis.

How does Flonase help with these illnesses?

Flonase works to manage allergies by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. It does this through its active ingredient, fluticasone propionate, a corticosteroid that prevents and controls inflammatory responses. Inflammation is our body's natural response to harmful stimuli such as allergens; however, excessive or chronic inflammation can lead to discomfort and symptoms like sneezing, itching, congestion and runny nose. Corticosteroids work by suppressing the immune system’s response thus reducing these symptoms. Flonase therefore helps patients manage their allergies more effectively.

On the other hand, Zyrtec (cetirizine) blocks histamine—a chemical responsible for many allergy symptoms—from binding with its receptors thereby limiting its effects on the body. Histamine plays a key role in allergic reactions leading to symptoms such as watery eyes, itching of skin/nose/throat and runny nose among others. Therefore when it is blocked by Zyrtec from binding with its receptors these allergy signs are alleviated helping patients control their allergy conditions better.

Both medicines have different ways of managing allergies but they all aim at relieving allergy symptoms for comfortability of patients.

What is Zyrtec?

Zyrtec, otherwise known as cetirizine, is a second-generation antihistamine. This means it works by blocking the action of histamines which are responsible for causing allergic symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing. It first received FDA approval in 1995, and since then has become a popular choice among patients seeking relief from seasonal allergies.

Unlike Flonase, Zyrtec does not involve any nasal application but rather comes in tablet form making it easier to administer. Compared to older antihistamines, Zyrtec doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier as much. This results in fewer side effects like drowsiness or sedation (a common problem with earlier generations of over-the-counter antihistamines).

It's important to note that while both Flonase and Zyrtec can be effective at treating allergy symptoms like congestion, runny nose, sneezing etc., they each work differently - one being a nasal spray steroid (Flonase) focusing on inflammation reduction within the nasal passages directly; while the other (Zyrtec) blocks histamine receptors throughout your body reducing general allergic reactions.

What conditions is Zyrtec approved to treat?

Zyrtec is an antihistamine approved for the treatment of:

  • Allergy symptoms, such as runny nose; sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; and itching of the nose or throat.
  • Chronic urticaria (hives), where it reduces redness, swelling, and itching.

How does Zyrtec help with these illnesses?

Histamine is a compound that's released by cells in response to injury and allergic or inflammatory reactions. It triggers contraction of smooth muscle and dilation of capillaries, leading to many allergy symptoms such as itching, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. Zyrtec works by blocking the action of histamine on H1 receptors in your body, thereby reducing these symptoms. Its effects are systemic rather than localized which can be an advantage for those suffering from widespread symptoms. While Flonase directly targets nasal symptoms as a corticosteroid spray, Zyrtec might be used when the patient experiences broader allergy reactions including skin itchiness or hives in addition to nasal allergies or for patients who cannot tolerate nasal sprays.

How effective are both Flonase and Zyrtec?

Both fluticasone (Flonase) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) have proven track records in treating patients with allergic rhinitis, obtaining FDA approval within a few years of each other. As they work through different mechanisms, they might be prescribed under separate circumstances. The effectiveness of Flonase and Zyrtec in alleviating allergy symptoms was directly studied in a double-blind clinical trial; both drugs showed similar efficacy in managing symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes as well as promising safety profiles.

A 2002 meta-analysis review on cetirizine revealed its effectiveness from the first day of treatment, showing favorable side effect profile compared to many other antihistamines and good tolerance even among elderly populations. The same study reports that cetirizine is one of the most commonly prescribed antihistaminic drugs worldwide due to its fast onset of action and minimal sedative effects.

A subsequent 2013 review indicated that fluticasone seems more effective than placebo for allergic rhinitis relief, demonstrating similar efficiency to other common nasal corticosteroids. However, fluticasone is typically considered after oral antihistamines fail to provide sufficient symptom control or cannot be used due to their side-effects such as drowsiness. On the flipside though, data supporting fluticasone's use alongside an oral antihistamine exists thus confirming its efficacy not just alone but also when co-prescribed with an oral agent for severe cases.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Flonase typically prescribed?

Flonase nasal spray dosages usually range from 1-2 sprays in each nostril per day, with studies showing that a daily dose of two sprays per nostril is adequate for most people suffering from seasonal or perennial allergies. Children between the ages of 4 and 11 may be started on one spray in each nostril per day. In either population, dosage can be increased after a few days if symptoms do not improve. However, the maximum dosage should not exceed two sprays in each nostril per day.

At what dose is Zyrtec typically prescribed?

Treatment with Zyrtec typically begins at a dosage of 10 mg/day for adults and children over the age of six years. For younger children (age two to five), it usually starts at 2.5 mg once a day, which can be increased to 5 mg per day if necessary. The dose can then be maintained or adjusted as appropriate based on patient response and tolerability. It should be noted that the maximum daily dose is 10 mg, regardless of weight or severity of symptoms. This may continue for several weeks or as directed by your healthcare professional depending on symptom relief and any side effects observed.

What are the most common side effects for Flonase?

Common side effects of Flonase may include:

  • Mild nasal burning or irritation
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Menstrual problems (changes in menstrual cycle)
  • Weight gain

On the other hand, Zyrtec can cause side effects such as:

  • Drowsiness, fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain (in rare cases)

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Flonase?

While taking Flonase, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects which can include:

  • A severe allergic reaction characterized by hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • White patches or sores inside your nose that are painful and may bleed
  • Blurred vision, eye pain or redness, seeing halos around lights
  • Irregular heartbeat patterns
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills

On the other hand with Zyrtec, possible serious side effects could involve:

  • Allergic reactions like skin rash; itching or hives; swelling of the face, lips, or tongue.
  • Dizziness and problems with balance
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Rapid heart rate

Regardless of whether you're using Flonase or Zyrtec if any signs of an adverse reaction occur seek immediate medical attention.

What are the most common side effects for Zyrtec?

Zyrtec, a popular antihistamine used for allergies, can potentially cause side effects such as:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain or constipation
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Dizziness While these symptoms are usually mild and temporary, they can create discomfort. It's also important to note that Zyrtec may lead to more serious side effects in rare cases like confusion, fast heartbeat, tremors, or an unexplained rash. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual symptoms while taking this medication.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Zyrtec?

Although Zyrtec is typically a safe and effective medication, it can sometimes lead to serious side effects. If you experience any of the following symptoms while using Zyrtec, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Severe dizziness or light-headedness
  • Problems with urination (little or no urine)
  • Confusion, weakness or feeling unsteady
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Tremors or convulsions (seizures)

Remember that this list does not cover all possible side effects. Always consult a healthcare professional for advice on medication use and potential adverse reactions.

Contraindications for Flonase and Zyrtec?

Both Flonase and Zyrtec, like most allergy medications, may cause side effects in some individuals. If you notice an increase in severity of allergic reactions or new symptoms after using these medications, seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Flonase nor Zyrtec should be taken if you are currently using or have recently used monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Always inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking; MAOIs can interact with many drugs including Flonase and Zyrtec, so a clearance period of approximately 5 weeks is required to prevent potentially harmful interactions.

How much do Flonase and Zyrtec cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for a 50 mcg Flonase nasal spray (120 doses) averages around $22, which works out to approximately $0.18/day considering one dose per day.
  • In comparison, the cost of 30 tablets of Zyrtec (10 mg) is about $20, equating to roughly $0.67/day.

Thus, if you are in need of daily allergy relief medication and only require a single dose per day, then brand-name Flonase is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However cost should not be your only consideration when choosing between these two medications.

Looking at generics:

  • A generic version of Flonase (fluticasone propionate), with similar dosage and quantity parameters as above, ranges from about $5-$15 ($0.04 - $0.12 /day)
  • Cetirizine hydrochloride (generic Zyrtec), for a pack size of 30 x 10mg tablets can be found between approximately $3 -7 ($0.1 - $.23 /day).

As always consult with healthcare professionals before making decisions solely based on pricing considerations.

Popularity of Flonase and Zyrtec

Fluticasone propionate, available in branded form as Flonase, is a nasal spray used to treat allergy symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and runny nose. In 2020, it was estimated that about 5 million people in the US were prescribed Flonase. Fluticasone accounted for nearly 15% of intranasal corticosteroid prescriptions in the US and has been generally increasing in prevalence since its over-the-counter approval by FDA in 2014.

Cetirizine hydrochloride or Zyrtec on the other hand is an oral antihistamine also used to alleviate allergy symptoms including itching and hives. It was prescribed to around 3 million people in the USA during the same year. In terms of overall antihistamine prescriptions across America, cetirizine ranks highly with just under a quarter share of this market segment. The usage rate of cetirizine has remained fairly stable over recent years due to its effectiveness and affordability.


Both Flonase (fluticasone) and Zyrtec (cetirizine) have long-standing records of usage in patients with allergies, and are backed by numerous clinical studies indicating their effectiveness over placebo treatments. They treat similar symptoms but work via different mechanisms; Flonase is a steroid nasal spray that reduces inflammation in the nasal passages, while Zyrtec is an antihistamine that blocks histamine to alleviate allergy symptoms.

Flonase is often considered as a first-line treatment option for nasal allergy symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose or itchy eyes, whereas Zyrtec tends to be prescribed for those suffering from hives or itching related to skin conditions. In some cases, these drugs may be combined for comprehensive symptom relief.

Both Flonase and Zyrtec are available in generic form which represents significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out of pocket. The effects of both drugs should be noticeable within hours of administration though individual responses can vary.

The side effect profile differs between the two medications: common side effects of Flonase include dryness or irritation in the nose and throat whereas Zyrtec may cause drowsiness due to its mechanism as an antihistamine. Patients using either medication should seek medical help immediately if they notice any severe adverse reactions such as difficulty breathing or swelling around the face.