Loratadine : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More

Why is this medication prescribed?

Loratadine is used to temporarily relieve the symptoms of hay fever (allergy to pollen, dust, or other substances in the air) and other allergies. These symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes, nose, or throat. Loratadine is also used to treat itching and redness caused by hives. However, loratadine does not prevent hives or other allergic skin reactions. Loratadine is in a class of medications called antihistamines. It works by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body that causes allergic symptoms.

Loratadine is also available in combination with pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, others). This monograph only includes information on the use of loratadine alone. If you are taking the loratadine and pseudoephedrine combination product, read the information on the package label or ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How should this medicine be used?

Loratadine comes as a syrup (liquid), tablet, and tablet that quickly disintegrates (dissolves) to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Carefully follow the directions on the package label and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take loratadine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less, or take it more often than directed on the package label or recommended by your doctor. If you take more loratadine than directed, you may experience drowsiness.

If you are taking the rapidly disintegrating tablet, follow the directions on the package to remove the tablet from the blister without breaking the tablet. Do not try to push the tablet through the foil. After removing the tablet from the blister pack, immediately place it on your tongue and close your mouth. The tablet will dissolve quickly and can be swallowed with or without water.

Do not use loratadine to treat hives that are bruised or blistered, have an unusual color, or are not itchy. Call your doctor if you have this type of hives.

Stop taking loratadine and call your doctor if your hives do not improve during the first 3 days of your treatment or if your hives last longer than 6 weeks. If you don’t know the cause of your hives, call your doctor.

If you are taking loratadine to treat hives and experience any of the following symptoms, seek emergency medical help immediately: difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing; swelling in and around the mouth or swelling of the tongue; wheezing drooling dizziness; or loss of consciousness. These could be symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If your doctor suspects that you may experience anaphylaxis with your hives, they may prescribe an epinephrine injector (EpiPen). Do not use loratadine in place of the epinephrine injector.

Do not use this medicine if the safety seal is open or broken.

Other uses for this medicine

This medication may be recommended for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking loratadine,

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to loratadine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in loratadine preparations. Check the package label for a list of ingredients.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention cold and allergy medications.
  • Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma or kidney or liver disease.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking loratadine, call your doctor.
  • If you have phenylketonuria (PKU, an inherited condition in which a special diet must be followed to prevent mental retardation), you should know that some brands of orally disintegrating tablets may contain aspartame which forms phenylalanine.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Loratadine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • nosebleed
  • sore throat
  • mouth sores
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • nervousness
  • weakness
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • red or itchy eyes

Some side effects may be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop taking loratadine and call your doctor immediately:

  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • hoarseness
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • wheezing

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature, away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom) and away from light. Use the orally disintegrating tablets immediately after removing them from the blister and within 6 months after opening the outer foil pouch. Write the date you open the foil pouch on the product label so you know when 6 months have passed.

It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, as many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. Check out the FDA drug safe disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or is unable to wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • fast or pounding heartbeat
  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • unusual body movements

What other information should I know?

Keep all your appointments with your doctor.

Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about loratadine.

It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Agistam®
  • Alavert®
  • Claritin®
  • Clear-Atadine®
  • Dimetapp® ND
  • Tavist® Non-Sedating
  • Wal-itin®

Brand names of combination products

  • Alavert® D (containing Loratadine, Pseudoephedrine)
  • Claritin-D® (containing Loratadine, Pseudoephedrine)

Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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