Claritin and Alcohol

by on June 5, 2012

Claritin (Loratadine) is an over-the-counter medication used for the relief of allergies and hives. It is a newer class of antihistamine that has a non-sedating effect. Compared with other antihistamines, Claritin is less likely to cause drowsiness although some people, who are more sensitive to this drug, may develop drowsiness.

Mixing Claritin with alcohol may or may not cause problems. Usually, people who develop drowsiness due to this drug are at an increased risk of experiencing negative effects due to such drug interaction; therefore are advised to avoid drinking alcohol.

Possible Side Effects

Basically, consuming alcohol with medication can be harmful. Alcohol has a central nervous system depressant effect that can make you drowsy, lightheaded and sleepy, much like the effects of most antihistamines like Claritin. While Claritin is considered “non-drowsy” medication, clinical studies show that up to 8 percent of people taking this drug reported drowsiness. In patients who experience drowsiness, alcohol can potentiate the undesired effects of Claritin, often excessive drowsiness.

If you are taking Claritin, you may not be able to safely consume the usual amount of alcohol you take. It is also possible for you to have difficulty concentrating or performing activities that require focus. Driving or operating heavy machinery may be dangerous, therefore is not advised. In some patients, excessive drowsiness can lead to serious injuries such as falls, especially among older adults and women. Take note that women and older adults may react differently to alcohol, as such are at higher risk of developing negative effects. These special populations may have lower tolerance to alcohol hence are at an increased risk for drug interaction.


On the other hand, for most people who do not experience drowsiness with Claritin, consuming alcohol may be relatively safe. However, as with any medication, patients are advised to consume alcohol with caution, especially if it is your first time. If you decide to drink while taking Claritin, you should consider “safe drinking” such as limiting your intake and drinking more slowly. As much as possible, do not drink alcohol right after taking the drug,  combining these substances increases the risk of drug interaction which can lead to harmful effects. It may also be a good idea to drink with friends and let them know about the possible interaction, so that they can help monitor your response.

If you do not know the effects of Claritin on you, it may be best to just avoid drinking alcohol. The risk of combining alcohol and medicines can never be discounted and should be avoided. If you drink more than 3 or more units of alcohol per day, be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider before taking any drug.