Seasonal allergies can make you miserable. Fortunately, symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, eye irritation and itching can be relieved by some over-the-counter allergy medications. One such medication is Claritin. Although the package labeling on Claritin does not mention if it is safe to drink alcohol while using the medication, experts believe you should avoid mixing the two substances.

Mixing Alcohol and Claritin vs. Claritin-D

Claritin and Claritin-D are similar drugs. Claritin is the brand name for the generic drug loratadine, a once-daily antihistamine that is FDA-approved to treat and prevent allergy symptoms. Similarly, Claritin-D contains loratadine as well as pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter decongestant. Claritin-D is a once- and twice-daily drug that is FDA-approved to treat allergy symptoms as well as nasal stuffiness from the common cold.

You should use caution if mixing either Claritin or Claritin-D with alcohol. The drug interaction between loratadine and alcohol, with or without pseudoephedrine, raises concerns about additive side effects and safety.

Even if you try to space out your dose of Claritin or Claritin-D with your drinking, there is still a risk of side effects. This is because loratadine is a very long-acting drug that takes a long time to leave your body, especially if you have kidney or liver problems or are a senior citizen. In adults without liver problems, loratadine has a half-life of 8.4 hours, meaning that it takes 8.4 hours to clear half of a single dose from your body. Since it takes around five half-lives for a drug to completely leave your system, loratadine can remain present in your body for more than 40 hours.

Intense Drowsiness

Most antihistamines are central nervous system depressants and can be sedating. Although loratadine is less sedating than some other antihistamines, drowsiness and dizziness are still possible side effects, especially when the drug is mixed with alcohol.

Impaired Judgment

Impaired judgment is a side effect of drinking. When you mix alcohol with Claritin, the central nervous system effects of both drugs may be additive. In turn, your judgment may be impaired more than normal while drinking.

Increased Risk of Alcohol Overdose

Although little data exists on mixing alcohol and Claritin, it is known that drinking can be dangerous if you take stimulants. This is because stimulants, such as caffeine, counteract the sleepy feeling you get when you have had too much alcohol, leading you to drink more than you may have otherwise. Although loratadine itself is not a stimulant, the pseudoephedrine that is also present in Claritin-D is a stimulant. Therefore, it is possible that the stimulant action of pseudoephedrine may put you at risk for excessive drinking.

Decreased Effectiveness of Claritin

Alcohol can cause dehydration, both through its diuretic action (increased urination) as well as from nausea and vomiting due to drinking too much. In turn, dehydration can intensify allergy symptoms and counteract Claritin. This may be especially true of Claritin-D, which contains the decongestant pseudoephedrine that can further dry out nasal membranes.

Reducing Alcohol Intake May Reduce Allergy Symptoms

Dehydration, a side effect of drinking, can worsen allergy symptoms. This occurs because dehydration increases the amount of histamine your body produces. Histamine is released by mast cells in your body when you encounter allergens. By avoiding alcohol and dehydration, your body produces less histamine, meaning that your allergy symptoms are less severe.

Further, alcohol can induce allergy symptoms in some people. Beer can contain gluten, yeast, hops, barley and grapes, which can all be allergens. Wine may also contain substances that can induce reactions in people with tree nut, dairy, egg and fish allergies. Both beer and wine may also contain a chemical called sodium metabisulfite, a preservative that may exacerbate allergic conditions like asthma. Avoiding drinking may help you prevent reactions to these substances.

Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse

If you or a loved one struggle with drinking, you do not have to face your addiction alone. Our alcohol addiction experts at The Recovery Village at Baptist Health can help you get started on your road to a new, alcohol-free life. Contact us today to learn more about treatment programs that can work well for your situation and needs.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.