Claritin vs. Claritin-D: Which is better? (2023)

| Conditions treated | Efficacy | Insurance coverage and cost comparison | Side effects | Drug interactions | Warnings | FAQ

When it comes to allergy season, allergy medications are not a one-size-fits-all type of solution. There are several different types of allergy medications available, and oral antihistamines are among the most popular. Claritin (loratadine) is a common over-the-counter (OTC) drug that can help relieve allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. Claritin can also be found as Claritin-D, a combination of loratadine and pseudoephedrine to help fight nasal congestion.

Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine when you come in contact with allergens such as dust mites or pollen. By blocking the inflammatory response from histamine, these drugs can help relieve allergy symptoms. However, Claritin and Claritin-D have different ingredients, side effects, and uses.

What are the main differences between Claritin and Claritin-D?

The main difference between Claritin and Claritin-D is that Claritin-D contains an added ingredient called pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that is added for further relief of nasal congestion and sinus pressure. Because pseudoephedrine is a stimulant decongestant, Claritin-D may cause different side effects compared to Claritin.

Claritin is a second-generation antihistamine that may cause drowsiness. However, second-generation antihistamines cause less drowsiness compared to first-generation antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Unlike Claritin alone, Claritin-D has the potential to cause trouble sleeping due to the stimulant effects of pseudoephedrine.

Claritin (What is Claritin?) can be used in adults and children 2 years of age and older while Claritin-D (What is Claritin-D?) can only be used in adults and children 12 years of age and older. Regular Claritin is usually taken once daily whereas Claritin-D comes in 12-hour and 24-hour formulations; 12-hour Claritin-D can be taken twice daily and 24-hour Claritin-D can be taken once daily for full effects.

Main differences between Claritin and Claritin-D
Drug classAntihistamine (second generation)Antihistamine (second generation) and decongestant
Brand/generic statusBrand and generic version availableBrand and generic version available
What is the generic name?LoratadineLoratadine/Pseudoephedrine
What form(s) does the drug come in?Oral capsule
Oral tablet
Oral solution
Oral syrup
Oral tablet, extended-release
What is the standard dosage?10 mg once daily– 5 mg loratadine/120 mg pseudoephedrine once every 12 hours

– 10 mg loratadine/240 pseudoephedrine once daily

How long is the typical treatment?Short-term or long-term use as directed by a doctorShort-term or long-term use as directed by a doctor
Who typically uses the medication?Adults and children 2 years and olderAdults and children 12 years and older

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Conditions treated by Claritin and Claritin-D

Loratadine, the active ingredient in Claritin and Claritin-D, is FDA-approved to treat symptoms of allergies. Nasal symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing are caused by rhinitis, which is the inflammation of the mucous membranes. This group of symptoms is collectively known as hay fever. Loratadine can also treat allergic conjunctivitis, or itchy, watery eyes.

While Claritin-D can treat the aforementioned symptoms, it is more suitable for treating nasal congestion and sinus pressure symptoms that accompany allergies.

Both Claritin and Claritin-D may be used to treat itching as well as skin rashes or hives.

Allergic rhinitisYesYes
Allergic conjunctivitisYesYes
Nasal congestion/Sinus pressureNoYes

Is Claritin or Claritin-D more effective?

Claritin and Claritin-D are both effective for treating symptoms of seasonal allergies and perennial (year-round) allergies. For someone with typical mild allergy symptoms, Claritin can be enough to relieve symptoms. For someone with more severe allergy symptoms that include nasal congestion and sinus pressure, Claritin-D may be better.

Currently, there are no substantial clinical studies comparing Claritin and Claritin-D. Instead, one study from the compared 12-hour Claritin-D and 24-hour Claritin-D. Both drugs were significantly effective for treating nasal stuffiness and a runny nose compared to a placebo. The 24-hour Claritin-D was found to be comparable to 12-hour Claritin-D in efficacy while producing less insomnia.

When compared to Zyrtec-D (cetirizine/pseudoephedrine), Claritin-D may be slightly less effective for nasal congestion. One allergy study found that relief of sneezing and congestion was marginally better with cetirizine. Loratadine and cetirizine did not have significant differences in side effects according to the study.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to determine which OTC Claritin may be best for you. Depending on your overall symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend one version over the other, especially if you have nasal congestion.

(Video) Difference Between Claritin and Claritin D

Coverage and cost comparison of Claritin vs. Claritin-D

Claritin is an OTC brand-name drug that is widely available in generic form. Generic loratadine can be found at most pharmacies, retailers, and grocery stores. Most Medicare and insurance plans may not cover Claritin. The average cash price without insurance is close to $30 for 30 tablets. You can expect to pay less with a SingleCare discount card, which can reduce the cost to as low as $4.10 depending on which pharmacy you use.

Claritin-D is not generally covered by Medicare and most insurance plans. Like other OTC antihistamines, Claritin-D can be found in its generic form, loratadine/pseudoephedrine. The average retail price of Claritin-D is approximately $45. However, you can use a SingleCare discount card for generic Claritin-D to save much more. Using a prescription discount card can lower the price to about $15.

Typically covered by insurance?NoNo
Typically covered by Medicare?NoNo
Standard dosage10 mg (quantity of 30)10 mg loratadine/240 pseudoephedrine (quantity of 15)
Typical Medicare copay$18-$44$17
SingleCare cost$4-$10$15-$28

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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.

Side EffectApplicable?FrequencyApplicable?Frequency
HeadacheYes*not reportedYes*
Dry mouthYes*Yes*
Skin rashYes*Yes*

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

Drug interactions of Claritin and Claritin-D

Claritin and Claritin-D both contain loratadine, which has the potential to interact with several drugs. Taking loratadine with amiodarone may lead to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythm such as Torsades de pointes.

(Video) Best antihistamine for your allergies

Loratadine can also interact with CYP3A4 inhibitors such as erythromycin and ketoconazole. Taking these drugs with loratadine may cause an increased level of loratadine in the body which can, in turn, increase the risk of adverse effects. Taking cimetidine with loratadine may also have the same effect.

The pseudoephedrine component of Claritin-D can also interact with other drugs such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), beta blockers, and digoxin. Taking any of these drugs with pseudoephedrine can lead to adverse effects that affect the vascular system and heart.

DrugDrug ClassClaritinClaritin-D
CYP3A4 inhibitorsYesYes
CimetidineH2-receptor antagonistYesYes
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)NoYes
Beta-adrenergic blockersNoYes
DigoxinCardiac glycosideNoYes

This may not be a complete list of all possible drug interactions. Consult a doctor with all the medications you may be taking.

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.

Frequently asked questions about Claritin vs. Claritin-D

What is Claritin?

Claritin (loratadine) is an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms. It is usually taken as a 10 mg tablet once daily to help relieve runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Claritin can be used in adults and children 2 years and older.

What is Claritin-D?

Claritin-D is an OTC antihistamine/decongestant combination drug. It contains loratadine and pseudoephedrine. Claritin-D can help treat allergy symptoms and is especially useful for nasal congestion and sinus pressure. It can be used in adults and children 12 years and older.

(Video) Which Allergy Medicine Is Perfect For You?

Are Claritin and Claritin-D the same?

Claritin and Claritin-D both contain loratadine. However, they are not the same drug. Claritin-D also contains a stimulant decongestant called pseudoephedrine. Claritin-D is used to help relieve nasal congestion.

Is Claritin or Claritin-D better?

Depending on the allergy symptoms you experience, Claritin or Claritin-D may be preferred. If you experience nasal congestion or sinus pressure, Claritin-D will be better at relieving these symptoms. If you’re experiencing mild allergy symptoms, Claritin will work just as well for allergy relief.

Can I use Claritin or Claritin-D while pregnant?

Claritin and Claritin-D should only be used during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks. Consult a doctor or pharmacist for medical advice before using Claritin or Claritin-D while pregnant.

Can I use Claritin or Claritin-D with alcohol?

It is not generally recommended to drink alcohol while taking Claritin products. Combining alcohol and Claritin may lead to an increased risk of side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness.

Does Claritin-D make you drowsy?

Drowsiness is a potential side effect of Claritin-D. However, for some people, it may actually cause insomnia or trouble sleeping. This is because Claritin-D contains pseudoephedrine—a decongestant that has stimulant effects.

Does Claritin-D cause anxiety?

Nervousness and excitability are possible side effects associated with Claritin due to the stimulant effects of pseudoephedrine. Talk to your doctor if you experience any side effects such as severe dizziness or restlessness.

Does Claritin dry up mucus?

Yes. It’s possible that Claritin can dry up mucus. Using Claritin may increase the incidence of “drying” side effects. Dry mouth is one of the more common side effects of Claritin and other antihistamine drugs.


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