Is zyrtec an anticholinergic?

Are you feeling a little sneezy and itchy? Maybe it’s time to take some allergy medicine. One of the most popular options out there is Zyrtec, but many people have been questioning whether or not it falls under the category of anticholinergics. Read on to find out more about this potentially confusing topic.

What are Anticholinergics?

First things first, let’s define what exactly an anticholinergic is. These are drugs that block a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine in your brain and body. Acetylcholine plays a role in many physiological processes such as muscle contraction, heart rate regulation, and memory function.

Anticholinergics can be prescribed for various conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, overactive bladder syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and sometimes even depression.

Some examples of well-known antihistamines that contain anticholinergic properties include Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and Dramamine (dimenhydrinate).

So What About Zyrtec Then?

Zyrtec is actually not classified as having significant anticholinergic activity according to drug information sources analyzed by researchers at Indiana University’s School of Medicine (1).

The same researchers’ findings also revealed Claritin (loratadine) does fall under the realm of mild or moderate anti-cholingernic effects along with Allegra/ Telfast’s active component – fexofenadine maleate (1).

So rest assured folks; taking Zyrtec shouldn’t cause any major concerns when it comes to blocking acetylcholine receptors in our bodies!

Why Does This Matter Anyway?

You might be wondering why anybody would care whether their allergy medication has anti-cholingeric properties or not- at least until you realize that people who use anticholinergics for extended periods of time to treat conditions can experience a decline in cognitive function over time (2).

If you take an unexpected nap or forget your keys, it could just be because of pollen allergies- but if events like these happen with more frequency, and the user is being treated with anticholinergic medication , then it might indicate age-related memory loss.

While taking some allergy pills wouldn’t immediately cause such decline – especially if one uses them only for seasonal allergies or other short-term ailments, someone who regularly takes medication containing significant levels of antihistamines may want to consider a switch due to their potential longterm effects on Alzheimer’s disease (3).

The Bottom Line

Zyrtec does not make the cut as an anti-cholinergic when compared to some other well-known allergy medications out there. That said, always best care when considering taking any OTC drug- double-checking its formulation before stocking up can save us from future headaches… literally!

Let’s keep those histamines under control without messing around too much with acetylcholine agents shall we?


1) Gray SL et al., Antihistamine Use and Cognitive Impairment in A Large Community-Dwelling Older Cohort:

2) Chouinard S et al., 2007. Antihistamine Alters Neurotransmitter Signaling During Absence Epileptic Seizures (

3) Licher S et al., 2018. Relationship Between Use of Anticholinergic Medication and Risk of Dementia Among Patients With Parkinson Disease (

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