Compare Claritin vs. Phenylephrine

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Claritin
(loratadine)

Sudafed Pe
(phenylephrine)

Treats allergy symptoms. Claritin (Loratadine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that doesn't make you feel sleepy.Clears your sinuses. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a good medication for relieving stuffy nose. It doesn't work as well as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), but it has fewer side effects.
Reviews & ratings
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5Claritin
Reviews for Claritin
74%
of people (All ages) say Claritin is worth it
38%
say it works well
6%
say it's a big hassle
1517 reviews
Have you used Claritin (loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Phenylephrine
44%
+30% better vs. Claritin
24%
+14% better vs. Claritin
10%
+4% better vs. Claritin
164 reviews
Have you used Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
ClaritinPhenylephrine

We haven’t found good data for Claritin side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Claritin »

We haven’t found good data for Phenylephrine side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Phenylephrine »
How it works
ClaritinPhenylephrine
Claritin (Loratadine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. Antihistamines can also make you sleepy, but Loratadine is a low-drowsiness version.Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.
Type of medication
ClaritinPhenylephrine
Prescription or OTCPrescription or OTC
Available as
ClaritinPhenylephrine
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Orally disintegrating tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
Used for
ClaritinPhenylephrine
Risk factors for serious side effects
ClaritinPhenylephrine
  • Age 65 or older
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • History of phenylketonuria (PKU)
Detailed Claritin (loratadine) risks & warnings »
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking MAO inhibitors
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Food
ClaritinPhenylephrine
  • Claritin (Loratadine) contains aspartame (phenylalanine). People who have phenylketonuria (PKU) can't break down the amino acid phenylalanine. It builds up and causes serious medical problems. If you have PKU, don't use this product.
No food related info.
Sleep
ClaritinPhenylephrine
  • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
No sleep related info.
Upsides and benefits
ClaritinPhenylephrine
  • Relieves allergy symptoms like sneezing and runny nose just as well as other antihistamines, but with less sedation (drowsiness).
  • Also treats hives and itchy skin.
  • Side effects are rare and usually mild.
  • Available over the counter without a prescription.
  • Comes as a tablet, liquid, or quick-dissolving tablet.
  • Can provide quick relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • Okay to take with most other medications because it doesn't have many interactions.
  • Works to clear nasal congestion and helps you breathe better.
  • Helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches.
  • Has fewer side effects than other decongestants like pseudoephedrine.
  • It doesn't raise your blood pressure and heart rate as much, or cause as much trouble falling asleep.
  • Doesn't give you rebound congestion (worse symptoms when you stop taking it) like nasal spray decongestants do.
Downsides and risks
ClaritinPhenylephrine
  • For some people, its effectiveness on treating allergies wears off over time.
  • Some people find that other more sedating antihistamines (like Zyrtec or Benadryl) are more effective for them.
  • If you have daily allergy symptoms, a prescription nasal steroid spray might be better for you long-term.
  • Not for kids under 2 years.
  • The Reditabs version contains aspartame (phenylalanine).
  • Phenylephrine doesn't last as long as other decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
  • You shouldn't use it if you have high blood pressure.
  • Can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
  • Not as effective after using it for 4 days in a row.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
ClaritinPhenylephrine
  • Take it only once a day.
  • Starts working in a few hours.
  • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
  • Avoid possible side effects by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated liquids.
  • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor about trying a nasal steroid instead, which might work better for you long-term.
  • Using an antihistamine eye drop might work better to help itchy or watery eyes.
  • Starts working in 30 minutes.
  • Phenylephrine can make you restless, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
  • It's in other cold and flu combination medicines. Read labels closely so you don't accidentally double up and take too much of it in a day.
  • Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take.
  • Let your doctor know if your symptoms don't improve in a few days.
Learn more
More about ClaritinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Claritin (loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about PhenylephrineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it