Claritin is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that’s used to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever.
Common symptoms of hay fever include:
- runny nose
- itchy eyes
Mixing Claritin and alcohol can cause side effects. The safest option is to avoid alcohol altogether when taking Claritin and similar medications.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how alcohol can interact with Claritin and the possible side effects of mixing the two.
Claritin is the brand-name version of a drug called loratadine. Generic versions of loratadine are also available.
Medications that contain loratadine as their active ingredient can help relieve the following upper respiratory symptoms:
These symptoms are caused by allergens such as pollen or dust.
When an allergen enters your body, your immune system may mistakenly identify the allergen as a dangerous intruder. It then activates chemicals, like histamine, to fight off the intruder.
Histamine triggers an immune system response designed to rid your body of the allergen. You start to sniffle, sneeze, and itch.
Loratadine is part of a class of drugs called antihistamines. It works by preventing histamine from binding to histamine receptors in your body. This stops allergy symptoms.
There are two types of antihistamines: first- and second-generation. First-generation antihistamines are more likely to cause drowsiness compared to second-generation antihistamines.
Loratadine is a second-generation antihistamine. Though drowsiness is a possible side effect, it’s rare.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol can interact with antihistamines like Claritin.
The main issue is that both alcohol and antihistamines are central nervous system depressants. Both can leave you feeling:
When combined, these effects can be dangerous.
These effects are more pronounced when alcohol is mixed with first-generation antihistamines, like Benadryl.
Though second-generation antihistamines like Claritin are less likely to cause serious side effects, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to mix this type of medication with alcohol.
How you react to mixing Claritin and alcohol depends on many different factors, including your:
- overall health
Women and older adults are more likely to experience serious alcohol-medication interactions.
Mixing alcohol and Claritin may also be riskier if you have certain conditions, such as:
- alcohol use disorder
- enlarged prostate
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- thyroid problems
Alcohol also affects the way your body processes medication. It may make the antihistamine less effective at relieving your allergy symptoms.
If this happens, don’t take more Claritin until the alcohol is out of your system.
Both alcohol and Claritin slow down nervous system activity. This may result in the following side effects.
Both alcohol and Claritin decrease your heart rate. This makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. You might feel:
You may find it harder to control your movements.
Mixing alcohol and Claritin could leave you feeling tired or sleepy. While Claritin doesn’t usually cause drowsiness on its own, this side effect is more likely when alcohol is present.
Increased risk of overdose
When you mix alcohol and Claritin, your liver takes longer to process both substances. You might feel more intoxicated than you normally would.
If too much alcohol builds up in your system, it can increase your risk of an alcohol overdose.
Claritin is generally safe, with a low risk of serious drug interactions.
It’s still a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication.
Let them know if you’re taking other prescription or nonprescription medications, including vitamins and herbal supplements. They can help you minimize any interactions with Claritin.
Some medications that may interact with Claritin include:
- amiodarone (Pacerone)
- carbamazepine (Tegretol, Tegretol XR, Epitol)
- cimetidine (Tagamet)
- darunavir (Prezista)
- dasatinib (Sprycel)
- erythromycin (Erygel, Eryped)
- midodrine (ProAmatine)
- ranolazine (Ranexa)
- rifampin (Rifadin)
- ritonavir (Norvir)
- St. John’s wort
You should also speak to your doctor about taking Claritin with other medications that can cause drowsiness, as Claritin can worsen this side effect.
Claritin is an antihistamine that contains loratadine. It’s used to treat symptoms caused by seasonal allergies. As a second-generation antihistamine, it has a lower risk of drowsiness.
Claritin is less likely than other antihistamines to cause serious side effects when mixed with alcohol. However, side effects such as dizziness and sleepiness are still possible.
Plus, Claritin may interfere with your liver’s ability to process alcohol, increasing your risk of an overdose if you drink too much.
Because of these risks, it’s best to avoid alcohol when taking Claritin.