Claritin (loratadine) is a popular over-the-counter antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms such as runny nose , itchy or watery eyes, and sneezing. It can also be used to treat itchy skin reactions and hives (hives).
The drug blocks the action of histamine , a substance that can be released by the immune system in response to harmless particles such as pollen or mold. Histamine plays an important role in the development of nasal allergy symptoms such as mucus, swelling, and itching .
Claritin is available in tablets, quick-dissolving tablets, chewable tablets, liquid capsules, and syrup. There are generics, as well as another over-the-counter brand of loratadine called Alavert.
It can be used to relieve or prevent the following allergy symptoms :
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy nose or throat
- Itching or irritation from skin reactions such as hives.
Your healthcare professional will ask about your symptoms and may do a blood or skin test to determine or confirm that an allergy is causing your symptoms. Common allergens include pollen (from trees, grasses, weeds), mold, dust mites, pets (cats, dogs), and pests (cockroaches, mice).
If allergens are identified, you can take some environmental steps, such as mold removal or pest control, to minimize exposure and eliminate symptoms without taking medication (or for an extended period of time). If this is not enough, you can consider using Claritin.
Due to their action, first-generation antihistamines like Benadryl tend to cause drowsiness and carry risks for people with certain medical conditions, such as heart problems or glaucoma , or risk factors for dementia . Claritin and other second-generation antihistamines act more directly on histamine receptors, reducing or eliminating these problems (which is why they are often considered first-line drugs).
Your healthcare professional can help you evaluate whether Claritin might be the best second-generation antihistamine for you or if another brand might be better for you. For example, although most people do not experience drowsiness when taking Claritin, this side effect can occur. If you experience this or are concerned about drowsiness, Allegra (Fexofenadine) may be your preferred option.
Talk to your doctor about all the medications, supplements, and vitamins that you are currently taking. While some medications carry little risk of interactions, others may directly contraindicate their use or cause careful consideration of whether the benefits of treatment outweigh the disadvantages in your case.
Precautions and contraindications.
While some people find that taking Claritin (without decongestants) can be helpful in treating allergies on a daily basis, Claritin-D should not be taken for more than a few days. Claritin-D, when taken regularly, can raise blood pressure and paradoxically make nasal symptoms worse.
Certain medical circumstances can make Claritin risky or even prevent its use, including:
- Allergic Reactions: Do not take Claritin if you have ever had an allergic reaction to loratadine or any of the inactive ingredients. For those who are allergic or sensitive to gelatin, quick-dissolving tablets and liquid-filled capsules should be avoided.
- Pregnancy: Although research shows that the use of antihistamines during pregnancy is not associated with birth defects, adequate and well-controlled human studies are scarce and more research is needed. Your healthcare provider can help you determine if you should take Claritin.
- Diet: Antihistamines can be passed to the baby through breast milk and may not be recommended during breastfeeding. Your healthcare professional can help you determine whether or not you should take Claritin.
- Phenylketonuria (PKU) : Chewable tablets contain aspartame, which is dangerous for people with inherited PKU metabolic disorders.
Other treatment options
There are many second-generation over-the-counter antihistamines available. Some include:
- Allegra (fexofenadine)
- Zyrtec (cetirizine)
- Ksizal (levocetirizine)
A common brand name of second-generation prescription antihistamines is Clarinex (desloratadine).
Other first-generation over-the-counter antihistamines that have more side effects and risks include:
- Ala-Hist IR (dexbrompheniramine)
- Chlor-Trimeton, Aller-Chlorine (chlorpheniramine)
- Tavist, daytime allergy (clemastine)
If antihistamines do not help to effectively control your nasal allergy symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend another medication or combination therapy, such as an antihistamine along with a leukotriene modifier. Leukotriene modifiers, including prescription Singulair (montelukast), target molecules called leukotrienes that promote mucus and airway inflammation.
Your healthcare provider can also discuss alternative treatments such as immunotherapy (allergy shots or pills).
The standard dose of Claritin for adults and children 6 years and older is 10 milligrams (mg) once a day or 5 mg twice a day.
The standard doses of Claritin are as follows :
|Kind of||Dose||Maximum quantity in 24 hours|
|Claritin tablets||10 mg||a tablet|
|Claritin Leakey-Geli||10 mg||A capsule|
|RediTabs Claritin 12-Hour and RediTabs 12-Hour Youth||5 mg||One fast dissolving tablet every 12 hours, no more than two tablets total.|
|Claritin 24 hours RediTabs and Juniors 24 hours RediTabs||10 mg||A fast dissolving tablet|
|Claritin Chewable Tablets and Claritin Children's Chewable Tablets||10 mg||A chewable tablet|
|Claritin Baby Syrup||5 mg per teaspoon / 5 milliliters (ml)||2 tsp / 10 ml|
All indicated doses are indicated by the manufacturer of the drug. Check the product label and talk to your doctor to make sure you are taking the correct dose.
For children 12 months to five years, the dose is 1/2 teaspoon (1.25 mg in 2.5 ml) once a day. And for children 6 to 11 months, the dose is 2 ml (1 mg) once a day.
Your healthcare provider may recommend a lower dose of clarithin, such as 10 mg every other day, if you have liver or kidney problems because you cannot eliminate antihistamines effectively, increasing your risk of toxicity.
How to take and store
You can take Claritin with or without food.
Take the missed dose as soon as possible, unless it is time for the next one, in which case you should skip the missed dose.
Follow the recommendations for maximum doses in 24 hours. Taking a dose higher than the recommended dose can increase the risk of side effects and lead to an overdose.
If you accidentally take more of this medication than the recommended daily dose, call the Poison Control Department (800-222-1222) or seek emergency medical attention.
Store Claritin in a dry place at room temperature (ideally 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit). As with all medicines, keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not use this medicine if the seal is open or broken. Rapid dissolving tablets should be taken immediately after opening individual blisters.
Loratadine is generally well tolerated, and most side effects are mild, but it can lead to serious side effects, such as a life-threatening allergic reaction, sometimes called anaphylaxis .
Common side effects of Claritin include:
Contact your doctor if any of these side effects are serious or do not improve over time.
If you experience any of the following serious side effects or symptoms of an allergic reaction while taking Claritin, seek emergency medical attention:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, or tongue.
- Excessive worry
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty speaking
Warnings and interactions
Certain medicines can affect the level of loratadine in the blood and make Claritin work more effectively. These medications include:
Do not take Claritin at the same time as other antihistamines or any other oral allergy medications unless recommended by your healthcare professional. You can take corticosteroid nasal sprays and allergy eye drops while taking Claritin.