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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Claritin

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

[posted 07/9/2000]
Question: I am currently using Claritin D 12 hour for seasonal allergies. It has been years since I have taken a drink. Just recently I had a drink, 15 hours after taking this drug. Although I only had a couple of drinks (the same amount as friends) I responded quite strongly to the alcohol. My behavior and physical symptoms resembled someone who had a .30 blood alcohol level. However, my friends seemed just fine. Needless to say, I do not plan on drinking another alcoholic beverage again. Is is possible the claritin stayed in my system, causing such a reaction?

Answer: There is often a reaction between antihistamines and alcohol and they should generally be avoided concurrently.

Claritin dosage around the world [posted 1/4/99]
Question: It has recently been brought to my attention that Claritin dosages vary in other countries. I have heard of regular doses in the 20-40 mg/day range as the standard in many other nations. Would you please shed some light on this subject (i.e. dosages, side effects, sedation rates). Also, if you know of any other publications, which discuss this dosage difference, I would love to know about it.

Answer: I don't have a clue about doses in other countries, you might check with the company, Schering 908-298-8000.

Nightmares, Hallucinations & Claritin [posted 12/02/98]
Question: I have been taking Claritin_D for 6 days and have experienced some alarming things. I cannot sleep at night. One night I slept 1-2 hours only and last night 2 hours. I was awakened slightly during the two hours and was plunged into severe nightmare experiences. They were so realistic that  I could not shake the experience for several hours. I was hysterical, had a hallucination, and believed  that if I went back to sleep I would die. I wrote eleven pages describing the experience and called the poison control number in my state to report the incident. They told me that there have been reports of psychotic episodes for some people who take this drug. Have you ever heard of this? They said it has been reported in children several times and one case where the patient had a previous mental condition. I rarely take medications and am allergic to several antibiotics. Could this also be an allergic reaction? The experience was so horrific, almost maniaical in nature.  I will never  take this drug again and am concerned for others who may not recover from such an experience. Please respond if you have any information. Thank you.

Answer: Well, it could be the Claritin or the D part. Probably the D part, although some patients will have this type of dream with antihistamines. I'd separate off the D(pseudoephedrine) and see what happens. You may be find on Claritin by itself.

Claritin and Claritin-D [posted 7/31/98]
Question: I've been on Claritin for about two months because of fluid in my ears due to allergies (I was having ear aches, headaches, and dizziness). My doctor put me on Claritin D when I started getting ear aches again and I felt this weird pulsing hum in my right ear after the 2 months. I took the Claritin D for 3 days and I started having minor anxiety attacks and trouble breathing (it felt like my throat was swollen). I went to my doctor and he said the breathing problem could be attributed to my allergies (I've never been to any allergist), my birth control pills (trilevlen), or the heart murmur they found a year ago. So he put me on amoxil 500 mg capsules for the cold I have, told me to take Claritin D 12 hour in the morning, then Claritin at night. I'm still having trouble breathing, though it comes and goes, I'm still anxious, I can't smell anything, sometimes food tastes weird, my fingers feel senseless, but they aren't. Today my jaw started to hurt when I swallowed and I felt lightheaded when I moved quickly. I think its due to the medications, but who knows? With all the problems I seem to be having this year I just don't know what to do. The doctor told me after my EKG, that my heart murmur wasn't anything to worry about. I'm 26, in excellent shape and tired of not feeling normal.

Answer: I'd stop the Claritin-D and see if the problems abate. If they do, try just the Claritin to see if the decongestant part (the D part) is the cause. This drug is similar to having some adrenaline on board or lots of extra coffee. If you've ever had a caffeine buzz, double it and this is what some patients experience on this drug.

Claritin-D [posted 7/27/98]
Question: I've been taking Claritin-d on and off for the past year or so (for what I've been told are allergies) and its great. I feel like I can breathe better and I am focused (it is as if it opens up my nostrils or because they always feel closed). The problem is, I don’t think I have an "allergy season", no matter what time of the year. If I get off the claritin for a while, I eventually get that closed nose, itchy throat feeling. I've never noticed or experienced this as a child, but now I'm 24 and am afraid I might need claritin-d indefinitely. Is there a way to take claritin-d without becoming permanently immune to it? I also take nasonex nasal spray because the combo really opens me up and I actually sound much less nasal when I speak as a result of this duo.

Answer: First, you won't become immune to the effects since it affects histamine release from mast cells and not how the mast cells react to immunogens. However, patients with nasal congestion due to allergies usually respond extremely well to immune therapy. That is, an allergist doing skin tests, identifying the allergens and providing ongoing shots. This is probably a lifetime process, but can be extremely effective with rhinitis. Lastly, if you haven't tried cromolyn sulfate or something equivalent along with the nasal steroid I would. This, in addition to the steroid, can be very helpful. I am assuming the nasonex is a steroid. If it is an OTC medication, it may be the cause of your problem - a condition called rhinitis medicosium. That is runny nose due to using vasodilator medications - experiencing a rebound effect.

Claritin-D and Mental Clarity
Question: For years I have felt foggy-headed and have had some minor difficulty with concentration and short-term memory. I accepted this as normal. I have had sinusitis in the past but not in the past year. One evening, I began taking Claritin-D (12 hour) that my doctor had given me as samples for no particular reason other than that I was feeling a little under the weather. At the time I began taking Claritin, I did not have a runny nose or any other of the other normal allergic symptoms. I took another pill the following morning and one more later that evening. That evening I felt great. It was like a cloud had been lifted from my head. I could think clearly and it seemed that my IQ had been boosted by twenty points. I can not stress enough how much better I felt that evening. This was not a delusional feeling associated with illicit drugs - I just felt clear-headed for a change. This feeling continued for about 24 hours, but then gradually subsided until I was back to feeling the way that I normally do, even as I continued to take the medication. I have discussed this with several doctors but none of them can explain what has happened and they have never heard of this ever happening to anyone else. After being off the drug for a couple of months, I began taking it again and had the same temporary relief. Can anyone explain why I temporarily feel this way? Could food or its chemical additives have canceled the effectiveness of the Claritin-D?

Answer: This unexpected, but serendipity occurs in unexpected situations. If it helps keep at it. Since, I'm not sure what is causing the improvement, I can't speculate on the remission.

Question: I take claritin for hay fever. Is Claritin friendly to one’s prostate?

Answer: Claritin has a mild anti-cholingeric effect which can cause difficulty with urination, especially if one has an enlarged prostate. It is not as marked as "traditional" antihistamines, but still has some effect.

Claritin and decreased libido
Question: In the past, I have taken Claritin and noticed a drop in libido. I mentioned this to my physician and he told me that this was indeed a low frequency side effect of Claritin. He changed my prescription to Seldane - but that of course is no longer available. After a period of several months without taking any medication, and with improved libido, I again started taking Claritin, and again the libido has diminished. Are there other medications that I could substitute for Claritin? Is the loss of libido truly connected to Claritin? My age is 46 and my health is otherwise good, but I am 20-25 lbs. overweight. I do not take any other prescription medications.

Answer: Allegra is similar to seldane, so I'd try it. Also, why are you taking antihistamines? If it is just nasal symptoms Nasalcrom, Nasal steroids etc., may be just as effective without the sexual disturbance. If for systemic allergies, try Allegra.

Long Term use of Claritin
Question: I have been prescribed Claritin for chronic allergies. The drug is recommended for seasonal allergies, but I have not been able to find any information on its use for more than 6 months. In the research I've done there appears to be very few side affects for this drug, I'm interested in the safety and possible side effects of long term use. Also, does Claritin remain effective for continuous use? Are there any other concerns with using this drug for extended periods of time?

Answer: There doesn't seem to be any or many. However, it has only been available here for about 6-8 years and in Europe for 12-15, so the use is fairly limited. Keep an eye on the press, but so far there has been nothing of any concern.

Claritin Side Effects
Question: I had been taking Claritin-D for several months and noticed a progressive set of depressive characteristics. In the past, I had a similar reaction to over-the-counter medications, such as Contac. Can you tell me what class of medications these belong to and if there are any alternative types of medication which might not cause the side effect of depression? I had excellent results from the Claritin D with regard to my allergy symptoms. I also take Pravachol and Cozaar. My physician was extremely surprised that my depressive symptoms disappeared within a couple of days when I discontinued the drug.

Answer: All the antihistamines have an anticholingeric effect. This is why you get sleepy, even on relatively selective ones like Claritin. Many people ill experience depression with any anticholingeric drug.

Question: I get spring time allergies and I have heard good things about using Claritin from friends and family. I have to have an annual drug test at my place of employment. Will Claritin cause my drug test to come back positive?

Answer: Only for Claritin.

Claritin & Diabetes
Question: A friend tells me there is some contraindication to using Claritin in a patient with diabetes. I'm a Type 2 non insulin dependent who takes Claritin for allergies on a continuous basis. Any comment?

Answer: No problem that I am aware of you can check with the company, Schering at 800-222-7579. This drug needs to be decreased in patients in patients with renal insufficiency(which some diabetics have) and with other medications. Otherwise, I am not aware of any problem with diabetic patients.

Seasonal Allergies
Question: I have been given Claritin for allergies - it has worked but now with whatever is blooming it does not seem to work as well? I can not find out what would be causing the allergy at this time of year - Late July/Aug/Sep in Central Florida.

Answer: Seasonal allergies, which may be what you are describing, are extremely common, and are becoming more common in the ignited States. As you may already know, there are many different substances that can cause a given patient to experience an allergic reaction. In addition, these reactions can vary with respect to what part of the body is affected, and how severe the reaction is. Seasonal allergies are usually caused by the seasonal changes in the environment, thus accounting for why some people have worsening symptoms, or all of their symptoms, during a particular time of the year. In the summer and fall, pollens from weeds (especially ragweeds), trees, grass, and a variety of flowering plants would come into play. It is important! However, to exclude other non-seasonal factors that can cause a change in your allergy symptoms, and a lack of relief from a medication that at one time was effective. Have you moved recently? Acquired any new pets, changed carpeting, air conditioners, heaters, job locations, or changed your day to day activities in any way? A visit to your health care provider can provide him or her with the answers to these and other important questions, so as to determine why your symptoms are occurring. Perhaps testing for what specific substances cause you symptoms, is in order. Once you know what types of agents you need to avoid, you can do so, thus decreasing the frequency and severity of your symptoms. Your health care provider can also give you information on simple things you can do around the house to help with your symptoms.

Claritin & Hemophelia
Question: My son, 6 1/2 years old was diagnosed with allergies recently. For years, we were told not to give him any antihistamines due to the factor eight deficiency and the effect that it has on the platelets. At this time, the doctor is recommending Claritin for his allergies to be used (1-1 1/2 tsp. daily). I am concerned and need to know if Claritin could possibly have any serious side effects, i.e. drying up the nasal passages or airways and possibly creating bleeding. My son gets a lot of sinus/respiratory infections and is on antibiotics seldomly. Could there be any interactions with the antibiotics and the claritin together? Could those medicines together create any bleeding episodes? I thank you for your time and anxiously await your opinion.

Answer: Claritin doesn't dry as much as the "older" antihistamines;but, it does some. As to the Factor VIII , you are out of my league. I'd discuss it with his hematologist.

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