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Loratadine

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Loratadine is an antihistamine used to reduce and relieve the symptoms of hay fever. It starts working within an hour and lasts for the whole day. Loratadine is a recommended hay fever treatment for pregnant women.


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Loratadine is a class of medication known as an antihistamine. It is primarily used to treat symptoms of hay fever including: 
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • itchy eyes, nose, and throat
Other conditions loratadine may be used for include:
  • eczema
  • conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye)
  • some food allergies
  • minor allergic reactions to insect bites or stings 
  • idiopathic urticaria (an itchy rash of unknown cause) 
Loratadine tablets contain 10mg of the active ingredient loratadine. It is also sold under the brand name Clarityn. It is a recommended treatment for hay fever in pregnant women
Loratadine works by reducing the symptoms of hay fever, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. It is an antihistamine, which means it blocks the action of a chemical called histamine that our bodies produce in response to an allergic reaction. 

How long does loratadine last?

Loratadine lasts around 24 hours in the body which means you only need to take it once a day to control hay fever symptoms. 

How long does loratadine take to work?

Loratadine is a fast-acting medication and normally starts to work within 1 hour of taking it.

How effective is loratadine?

Loratadine is a highly effective treatment for hay fever and is often the first choice of treatment for the condition. It works quickly and stays in the body for a long time, meaning you only need to take it once a day. Loratadine has minimal side effects, is safe to use during pregnancy, and is less likely to make you feel sleepy than other antihistamines.
Loratadine is a medication that is available as tablets, capsules, or liquids. At Superdrug Online Doctor, we provide loratadine tablets.
To take loratadine:
  • swallow the tablets whole with water
  • take your loratadine at the same time every day
  • you can take loratadine with or without food
If you miss a dose of loratadine, take it as soon as you remember. Never take double the dose to make up for the missed dose. 

If you take too much loratadine it is unlikely to cause serious harm, though it may increase side effects like headache, drowsiness, and a fast heartbeat. If you think you have taken too much loratadine, seek immediate medical attention. 

How long do you need to take loratadine?

Loratadine is a treatment rather than a cure, meaning it will only stop your symptoms for as long as you are taking it. How long you need to take it depends on what you are taking it for. For conditions like hay fever, you will probably need to take it regularly, especially when the pollen count is high. For other conditions such as an insect bite, a single dose of loratadine may be enough. 

Can you take loratadine when pregnant?

Yes. Loratadine is safe to take while pregnant and has not been shown to cause any harm to your unborn baby. If you are pregnant and worried about taking loratadine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Loratadine is available without a prescription, and you can buy it from pharmacies and supermarkets or online. 

Can I buy loratadine online?

Yes. It`s safe, quick, and easy to buy loratadine online from Superdrug online doctor. You can either collect your medication in-store, or we can deliver it to your chosen address. 

Can I buy loratadine over the counter?

Yes, loratadine is available over the counter from pharmacies and supermarkets. 

Can I get loratadine on the NHS?

Yes. Your GP or healthcare provider can prescribe loratadine on the NHS.
Like all medications, loratadine may cause side effects in some people. Most side effects are mild and not dangerous to your health.The most common side effects in adults and children over 12 are: 
  • drowsiness (feeling sleepy) 
  • headache
  • difficulty sleeping 
  • increased appetite (feeling hungrier than usual) 
The most common side effects in children aged 2 to 12 are: 
  • headache
  • feeling nervous
  • feeling tired
Loratadine is a non drowsy antihistamine, but it can still cause drowsiness in some people. Do not drive , participate in potentially dangerous activities, or operate machinery if you feel sleepy after taking loratadine. 

If you experience side effects and they are causing you distress, getting worse, or not going away, talk to your GP or pharmacist about trying an alternative medication.

Very rare side effects of loratadine (may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people) include: 
  • dizziness
  • seizure (fit)
  • palpitations (fast heartbeat or awareness of your heartbeat)
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • dry mouth
  • gastritis (irritation of the stomach) 
  • hair loss
  • liver problems
If you experience any of the above side effects, stop taking your medication and contact your GP or healthcare provider

In very rare cases loratadine can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Call an ambulance immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms: 
  • swelling of the face, throat, lips, or tongue
  • a red, itchy rash 
  • blistering and peeling skin
  • difficulty breathing 
  • collapse

How long do loratadine side effects last?

Headaches normally go away after about a week of taking loratadine. If your headaches are getting worse, or not going away, or if you experience drowsiness, nervousness, or feel more tired than usual, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about trying a different antihistamine. 

What to do if you get loratadine side effects

If you do experience side effects of loratadine, there are a few things you can do to help. 

Side effect 
 What you can do
Headaches 
  •  Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take a painkiller. Your GP or pharmacist can recommend one.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • If your headaches are severe, or not going away, talk to your doctor about trying a different medication.
Drowsiness  Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about switching to a different medication.
Feeling tired or nervous
If these effects don’t improve after about a week, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about switching to a different medication.
Loratadine is normally safe for adults and children over 2 years of age, but it may not be suitable for everyone. Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medical conditions or allergies you have before taking this, or any other medication. Loratadine is not safe for you to take if you:
  • are allergic to loratadine or any of its ingredients (lactose monohydrate, maize starch, pre-gelatinised maize starch, and magnesium stearate).
Talk to your GP, pharmacist, or healthcare provider before taking loratadine if you: 
  • have liver problems
  • are allergic to food additives
  • have epilepsy or other seizure disorder
If you are due to have allergy testing, (a test to find out what substances you are allergic to) stop taking your loratadine at least two days before your test. This is to make sure your test results are accurate. 

Interactions with other medications

Loratadine may interact with other medications you are taking. This could affect the way it works in your body or make side effects worse. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any other medications you are taking, including herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications. The following medications may increase side effects if taken with loratadine:
  • erythromycin (an antibiotic)
  • ketoconazole (used to treat fungal infections)
  • cimetidine (an indigestion remedy)
  • amiodarone (a heart medication)
If loratadine is not the right treatment for you, other antihistamines are available that may be more suitable. Alternatives available from Superdrug online doctor include cetirizine, fexofenadine, and Piriton. These medications are all antihistamines, and work in a similar way to loratadine, but how long they take to work, how long they work for, and some side effects may vary. 

Loratadine vs cetirizine

Loratadine and cetirizine are both second-generation, non-drowsy antihistamines. They are both taken once a day and last for around 24 hours. Loratadine is less likely to cause drowsiness than cetirizine. 

Generic name Brand names Normal Adult dose Starts to work Suitable for Common Side effects
Cetirizine HCL Allacan, Benadryl Allergy, Piriteze Allergy, Zirtek Allergy. 10mg once a day Within 1 hour Adults and children over 6 years Dizziness, dry mouth, diarrhoea, nausea, headache, fatigue
Loratadine Claritin-D, Claritin-D 24 Hour, Loratadine-D 24 Hour, Aller Clear D-24 Hour 10mg once a day In around 1 hours Adults and children over 2 years Headache, dry mouth, nosebleed, sore throat, mouth sores, difficulty sleeping, nervousness, weakness

Fexofenadine vs loratadine

Fexofenadine is another non-drowsy antihistamine. In one study, fexofenadine was found to be slightly more effective in relieving hay fever symptoms than loratadine.  It is taken once a day and starts to work within 2 hours. Fexofenadine is the least likely of all antihistamines to cause drowsiness. 

Generic name Brand names Normal Adult dose Starts to work Suitable for Common Side effects
Fexofenadine HCL Telfast 180mg once a day Within 2 hours Adults and children over 6 years Dowsiness, dizziness, headache, nausea

Loratadine vs Piriton

Piriton (chlorphenamine) is an older type of antihistamine that can cause you to feel sleepy after taking it. It is taken every 4 to 6 hours and takes effect within 30 minutes to 1 hour. Most people prefer to take a non-drowsy antihistamine like loratadine, but Piriton may be a good choice to take at night if your hay fever symptoms are keeping you awake.

Generic name Brand names Normal Adult dose Starts to work Suitable for Common Side effects
Chlorphenamine Piriton, Allerief, Hayleve, Pollenase 4mg every 4 to 6 hours 30 minutes to 1-hour Adults and children over 6 years Dowsiness, dizziness, headache, nausea, dry mouth, blurred vision

If you are unsure which antihistamine is right for you, talk to your GP,  pharmacist, or healthcare provider.

Reviewed by: Dr Babak Ashrafi in line with the Superdrug Online Editorial Process.

GMC no. 6077866

Dr Ashrafi studied at King’s College London and specialises in cardiology, diabetes, and stroke medicine.

Last reviewed on: 20/05/22