Help! Claritin Doesn't Work. What Should I Do?


Are you trying to get rid of your allergy symptoms but Claritin doesn’t work for you? Claritin is one of the most popular allergy medications on the market, but for some people it just doesn’t work. Why is this?

It can be very frustrating when a drug doesn’t work the way you expect it to, so in this guide we go over the top five reasons your Claritin doesn’t work or you find Claritin not working anymore. We also go over which symptoms Claritin is supposed to treat (and which it doesn’t) as well as other methods to try to get allergy relief.


What Is Claritin Supposed to Do?

Claritin is a brand name for the drug loratadine which is an antihistamine used to treat allergies as well as hives or rashes. Antihistamines reduce the effects of histamines. Histamines are natural chemicals the body produces to help your body get rid of something that’s bothering your immune system, such as an allergen.

In order to get rid of the allergen, histamines will heighten your body’s defense system causing you to sneeze, cough, tear up, have a runny nose, and itch to help get the allergen out of your system. Sometimes histamines can go overboard and leave you a miserable, sneezing, itching mess, so many people use antihistamines like Claritin to reduce the response their body has to allergens.

Claritin is designed to reduce the following symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash
  • Hives
  • Runny nose

Claritin uses a formula that avoids the drowsiness many antihistamines produce so you can get allergy relief without feeling tired or foggy.


5 Possible Reasons Claritin Doesn’t Work for You

Claritin can be a great drug for allergy sufferers, but for some people it doesn’t work or the Claritin stopped working. Why does this happen? Below are the five reasons Claritin doesn’t work for you or doesn’t work the way you expect it to.


#1: You Didn’t Start Taking Claritin Soon Enough

In order for Claritin to be most effective, you should aim to start taking it one to two weeks before allergens or other histamine triggers are in the air. Doing this helps your body begin to build up resistance so it’s prepared by the time the allergens arrive.

If you only start taking Claritin once you have allergy symptoms, you may not get immediate relief, but the good news is it’ll begin working after several days or up to two weeks after you begin using it.


#2: You Aren’t Consistent With Your Medication

Claritin is meant to be taken once a day, every day during allergy season(s) in order to provide long-term relief from allergy symptoms. If you don’t take a Claritin pill every day, you could wind up suffering from allergy symptoms even on days you do take Claritin since the drug doesn’t start working immediately.

Take one Claritin every day for it to be the most effective, but don’t take more than one pill a day, even if you missed a pill the day before. Taking multiple pills a day increases your risk of serious side effects.



Remember to Claritin every day for it to be most effective.


#3: You Expected Claritin to Be a Decongestant

You might also be expecting Claritin to solve a problem it isn’t meant to solve. Although congestion can be a common symptom for allergy sufferers, it isn’t one of the symptoms that Claritin is supposed to stop. So if you’re suffering from congestion, you’ll need to use another drug other than Claritin, or you’ll need to try Claritin-D, a version of the drug that also helps with congestion.


#4: Different Antihistamines May Work Better for You

There are multiple kinds of antihistamines, and different antihistamine drugs have different combinations of them. It may be that the active antihistamine in Claritin, loratadine, isn’t the kind that’s most effective for you. This could cause Claritin to not work well when you take it. In the next section we go over other antihistamine drugs, some of which may work better for you than Claritin since they have different active ingredients.


#5: You May Have Built Up a Tolerance

If you’ve been using Claritin for multiple years and it worked in the past but the Claritin has stopped working, your body may have built up a tolerance to it. Building up a tolerance can happen for any drug you take. What happens is your body gets used to the drug after you take it over an extended period of time and stops having a response to the drug. This causes the drug to not work well or at all.

If this happens, it may help to increase your dose or switch to a stronger antihistamine, but you shouldn’t do this without speaking with your doctor. Increasing your dose on your own can lead to serious side effects.


Other Treatment Options If Your Claritin Doesn’t Work

If Claritin doesn’t work for you, there are other options out there you can try to get allergy relief. Below are four categories of other treatment that may work better for you than Claritin.


Other Non-Drowsy Antihistamines

Claritin in one of three major non-drowsy antihistamine drugs. The other two Zyrtec and Allegra. Zyrtec’s active ingredient is cetirizine, while Allegra’s is fexofenadine. These are both different antihistamines than loratadine, the one Claritin contains, so if you find Claritin not working for you, switching to a different non-drowsy antihistamine drug may help you get relief. Non-drowsy antihistamines are very popular since they allow people to get relief from their allergy symptoms without feeling drowsy or tired during the day.




Antihistamines That May Make You Drowsy

If you’ve tried all three of the non-drowsy antihistamines and still are suffering from allergy symptoms, you may want to try other histamines that aren’t specifically anti-drowsy. The most common of these is Benadryl (active ingredient diphenhydramine), as well as Tavist (clemastine) and Dimetane (brompheniramine).

Some people taking these drugs feel they work better than non-drowsy antihistamines, but taking them can cause you to feel tired for much of the day. For some people, this can affect their school or job performance as well as prevent them from doing regular activities, like driving, because the medication makes it difficult for them to stay alert and focused. It may help you to take this drug at night, before you go to bed, to reduce some of the drowsiness these drugs cause.



Allergies can cause the lining of your nasal passages to swell, which can make you feel like your nose is stuffed and make it more difficult to breathe. Decongestants shrink the swollen blood vessels and tissues in the nasal passages so you aren’t congested anymore. If you’re suffering from nasal/sinus congestion, you may want to try a decongestant either in place of or in addition to Claritin.

Decongestants can come in pills, nose drops, nasal sprays, and liquids. Some common decongestant brands are Sudafed, Vicks Sinus, and Afrin. Decongestants don’t relieve other allergy symptoms like watery eyes, itching, and a runny nose, so if you’re suffering from any of those as well, you’ll likely need to use both antihistamines and decongestants to get relief.

The three non-drowsy antihistamines mentioned above also come in versions that include a decongestant. You can tell if your antihistamine includes a decongestant if it has the letter “D” after its name (Claritin-D, Allegra-D, etc.).


Natural Remedies

You don't always need to pop a pill in order to get allergy relief; there are actually multiple natural remedies that help many people with allergies. One of the most effective and popular is a neti pot. A neti pot helps clear mucus and debris from your nasal cavity. To use a neti pot, first fill it with either a purchased saltwater solution or purified water. Stand over a sink and tilt your head sideways. Place the spout of the neti pot in your nostril that's currently pointed up. Carefully pour the water into your nostril so the water drains through your lower nostril. When it's done draining, repeat on your other side.

Drinking two cups of green tea a day can also help relieve your allergy symptoms, especially if you start at least two weeks before allergy season. Green tea contains natural antihistamines to help fight allergy symptoms. Another effective natural remedy is an herb called butterbur. Some studies have shown butterbur to be as effective at fighting allergy symptoms as many over-the-counter allergy meds. If not properly processed though, butterbur can contain harmful chemicals known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), so you should always check any butterbur supplement you plan on taking with your doctor. Your butterbur supplement should also always be labeled "PA free."


Summary: Claritin Not Working

Claritin is a common antihistamine drug designed to reduce allergy symptoms without causing drowsiness. But what should you do if your Claritin stopped working effectively or Claritin doesn’t work for you?


There can be several reasons for Claritin not working:

  • You didn’t start taking Claritin soon enough
  • You don’t take Claritin every day
  • You’re expecting Claritin to be a decongestant
  • The antihistamine Claritin contains (loratadine) doesn’t work for you as well as other antihistamines would
  • You’ve built up a tolerance to Claritin, and now it doesn’t work as well

If your Claritin stopped working, there are other drugs you can try to get relief from your allergy symptoms including other non-drowsy antihistamines, antihistamines in general, and decongestants.


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About the Author

Melody is a writer at PrepScholar.

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