Loratadine is a generic allergy medication sold in an over-the-counter formula without a prescription. Often, patients and physicians refer to loratadine by its brand name, Claritin, Alavert or Clarinex. Loratadine suppresses the production of the chemical in your body that is largely responsible for allergic reactions, histamine. Despite its effectiveness at alleviating itchy eyes and sneezing related to allergies, loratadine poses a risk for side effects in some patients.
In adults, headaches are the most commonly reported side effect of loratadine and occur in approximately 12 per cent of users, according to FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) clinical trials published on RxList. Drowsiness is also common and affects roughly 8 per cent of patients. Dizziness, tremors and vertigo are also possible symptoms in adults taking loratadine.
Children taking loratadine are more prone to restlessness rather than drowsiness. Because of its ability to cause dizziness and drowsiness, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how loratadine effects you. Rarely, the use of loratadine results in seizures.
Around 2 per cent of children treated with loratadine develop abdominal pain, reports RxList. Gastrointestinal side effects are less common in adults, but may include changes in the taste of food, changes in appetite, constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion, flatulence, hiccups, loose stools, nausea and vomiting.
Though rare in adults, children treated with loratadine are prone to respiratory side effects from the drug. Wheezing and an increased incidence of upper respiratory tract infections are the most common of these effects and occur in 4 and 2 per cent of children, respectively, explains RxList. Infrequently, adult patients report bronchitis, coughing, shortness of breath, nasal dryness and sinus infections while taking loratadine.
Around 2 per cent of children who take loratadine develop conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the lining around the eyeball and eyelid, explains RxList. Infrequently, adults also describe sensory side effects from the drug, such as watery eyes, blurred vision, eye pain, earaches and ringing in the ears.
Loratadine has the potential to cause impaired concentration, insomnia and irritability as well as depression and anxiety. More serious, but rare psychiatric side effects of the drug include confusion, paranoia and amnesia or memory loss.
Both men and women taking loratadine may develop decreases in libido from the drug. Female patients also report breast pain, menstrual cramping, unusually heavy periods and an increased incidence of vaginal yeast infections. Because loratadine is known to cause fetal harm in laboratory animals, doctors rarely recommend the drug for use in pregnant women, cautions RxList.
Some patients develop decreased liver functioning while taking loratadine, causing jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin, cautions RxList. In some cases, this dysfunction results in serious conditions like hepatitis or even permanent kidney damage.
Other Side Effects
Loratadine also has the potential to cause other rare, but potentially serious side effects, according to RxList. Some patients develop low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and fainting from the drug. Another potential risk is that of thrombocytopenia, a shortage of blood platelets that causes easy bruising and a threat for prolonged bleeding following an injury. Very rarely, life-threatening allergic reactions occur to the ingredients in loratadine.