Compare Phenylephrine vs. Claritin

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

phenylephrine

Claritin
(Loratadine)

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.Treats allergy symptoms. Claritin (Loratadine) is a once-daily allergy relief medication that doesn't make you feel sleepy.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.18Phenylephrine
Reviews for Phenylephrine
44%
of people (All ages) say Phenylephrine is worth it
24%
say it works well
10%
say it's a big hassle
164 reviews
Have you used Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Claritin
74%
-30% worse vs. Phenylephrine
38%
-14% worse vs. Phenylephrine
6%
-4% worse vs. Phenylephrine
1517 reviews
Have you used Claritin (Loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
PhenylephrineClaritin

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

FDA side effect reports for Phenylephrine »

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

FDA side effect reports for Claritin »
How it works
PhenylephrineClaritin
Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.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.
Type of medication
PhenylephrineClaritin
Prescription or OTCLower-cost generic availablePrescription or OTCLower-cost generic available
Available as
PhenylephrineClaritin
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Orally disintegrating tablet
  • Liquid
Used for
PhenylephrineClaritin
Risk factors for serious side effects
PhenylephrineClaritin
  • 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 »
  • Age 65 or older
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • History of phenylketonuria (PKU)
Detailed Claritin (Loratadine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

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.

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.

Food
PhenylephrineClaritin
No food related info.
  • 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.
Sleep
PhenylephrineClaritin
No sleep related info.
  • Can make you feel sleepy, so take it at bedtime if needed.
Upsides and benefits
PhenylephrineClaritin
  • 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.
  • 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.
Downsides and risks
PhenylephrineClaritin
  • 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.
  • 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).
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
PhenylephrineClaritin
  • 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.
  • 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.
Learn more
More about PhenylephrineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about ClaritinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Claritin (Loratadine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it