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What Is Claritin Supposed to Do?

Claritin is a brand name for the drug loratadine which is an antihistamine used to treat allergies as well as hives or rashes. Antihistamines reduce the effects of histamines. Histamines are natural chemicals the body produces to help your body get rid of something that’s bothering your immune system, such as an allergen.

In order to get rid of the allergen, histamines will heighten your body’s defense system causing you to sneeze, cough, tear up, have a runny nose, and itch to help get the allergen out of your system. Sometimes histamines can go overboard and leave you a miserable, sneezing, itching mess, so many people use antihistamines like Claritin to reduce the response their body has to allergens.

Claritin is designed to reduce the following symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash
  • Hives
  • Runny nose

Claritin uses a formula that avoids the drowsiness many antihistamines produce so you can get allergy relief without feeling tired or foggy.


Common side effects of Claritin vs. Claritin-D

The most common side effects of Claritin and Claritin-D include headache, drowsiness, fatigue, and dry mouth. Other common side effects of these drugs include nervousness and dizziness.

Claritin-D may also cause insomnia or trouble sleeping as well as excitability due to the stimulant nature of pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine may also alter or increase blood pressure, especially in those with a medical history of high blood pressure.

Serious side effects can include allergic reactions to any of the ingredients in Claritin or Claritin-D. These adverse effects include difficulty breathing, chest tightening, hives, and wheezing. If you experience these side effects, seek medical attention immediately.

  Claritin Claritin-D
Side Effect Applicable? Frequency Applicable? Frequency
Headache Yes *not reported Yes *
Drowsiness Yes * Yes *
Fatigue Yes * Yes *
Dry mouth Yes * Yes *
Insomnia No Yes *
Excitability No Yes *
Nervousness Yes * Yes *
Dizziness Yes * Yes *
Skin rash Yes * Yes *

This may not be a complete list. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for possible side effects. Source: DailyMed (Claritin), DailyMed (Claritin D)

Other Treatment Options If Your Claritin Doesn’t Work

If Claritin doesn’t work for you, there are other options out there you can try to get allergy relief. Below are four categories of other treatment that may work better for you than Claritin.

Other Non-Drowsy Antihistamines

Claritin in one of three major non-drowsy antihistamine drugs. The other two Zyrtec and Allegra. Zyrtec’s active ingredient is cetirizine, while Allegra’s is fexofenadine. These are both different antihistamines than loratadine, the one Claritin contains, so if you find Claritin not working for you, switching to a different non-drowsy antihistamine drug may help you get relief. Non-drowsy antihistamines are very popular since they allow people to get relief from their allergy symptoms without feeling drowsy or tired during the day.

Antihistamines That May Make You Drowsy

Antihistamines That May Make You Drowsy

If you’ve tried all three of the non-drowsy antihistamines and still are suffering from allergy symptoms, you may want to try other histamines that aren’t specifically anti-drowsy. The most common of these is Benadryl (active ingredient diphenhydramine), as well as Tavist (clemastine) and Dimetane (brompheniramine).

Some people taking these drugs feel they work better than non-drowsy antihistamines, but taking them can cause you to feel tired for much of the day. For some people, this can affect their school or job performance as well as prevent them from doing regular activities, like driving, because the medication makes it difficult for them to stay alert and focused. It may help you to take this drug at night, before you go to bed, to reduce some of the drowsiness these drugs cause.


Allergies can cause the lining of your nasal passages to swell, which can make you feel like your nose is stuffed and make it more difficult to breathe. Decongestants shrink the swollen blood vessels and tissues in the nasal passages so you aren’t congested anymore. If you’re suffering from nasal/sinus congestion, you may want to try a decongestant either in place of or in addition to Claritin.

Decongestants can come in pills, nose drops, nasal sprays, and liquids. Some common decongestant brands are Sudafed, Vicks Sinus, and Afrin. Decongestants don’t relieve other allergy symptoms like watery eyes, itching, and a runny nose, so if you’re suffering from any of those as well, you’ll likely need to use both antihistamines and decongestants to get relief.

The three non-drowsy antihistamines mentioned above also come in versions that include a decongestant. You can tell if your antihistamine includes a decongestant if it has the letter “D” after its name (Claritin-D, Allegra-D, etc.).

Natural Remedies

You don’t always need to pop a pill in order to get allergy relief; there are actually multiple natural remedies that help many people with allergies. One of the most effective and popular is a neti pot. A neti pot helps clear mucus and debris from your nasal cavity. To use a neti pot, first fill it with either a purchased saltwater solution or purified water. Stand over a sink and tilt your head sideways. Place the spout of the neti pot in your nostril that’s currently pointed up. Carefully pour the water into your nostril so the water drains through your lower nostril. When it’s done draining, repeat on your other side.

Drinking two cups of green tea a day can also help relieve your allergy symptoms, especially if you start at least two weeks before allergy season. Green tea contains natural antihistamines to help fight allergy symptoms. Another effective natural remedy is an herb called butterbur. Some studies have shown butterbur to be as effective at fighting allergy symptoms as many over-the-counter allergy meds. If not properly processed though, butterbur can contain harmful chemicals known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), so you should always check any butterbur supplement you plan on taking with your doctor. Your butterbur supplement should also always be labeled “PA free.”

Warnings of Claritin vs. Claritin-D

Claritin or Claritin-D should not be taken if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in these drugs or have ever had an allergic reaction to them.

Claritin-D should be used with caution in those with cardiovascular disorders. This medication should also be avoided in those with severe high blood pressure (hypertension) or coronary artery disease. Pseudoephedrine has been shown to increase blood pressure and heart rate in some people.

Talk to your doctor before using any Claritin products if you have a history of kidney or liver problems. Kidney or liver impairment may increase the risk of adverse effects while taking these drugs.