Sudafed vs Claritin – Compare Differences Between Uses & Side Effects

Sudafed vs Claritin – detailed comparison:


It is a brand name of a drug called pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passages to decrease congestion and swelling.

This reduces the stuffy sensation that accompanies blocked sinuses, colds, flu, and allergies for easier breathing through the nose. Also, the decongestant helps drain fluid from the inner ears which may contribute to this congestion.

This medication is manufactured by McNeil Laboratories, a division of Johnson & Johnson – one of the largest healthcare companies, which has a record of $123,600 in sales per minute.

Interestingly, the decongestant can be used illegally to produce methamphetamine, a white amphetamine with central nervous system stimulating activity that facilitates the release of catecholamines.


This decongestant is used either as a topical or as an oral decongestant. Additionally, it is occasionally used to prevent ear blockage in individuals with ear pain caused by underwater diving or air travel, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • convulsions (seizures);
  • excitability or restlessness (particularly in children);
  • tremors;
  • nervousness;
  • fear;
  • headaches;
  • nausea;
  • dizziness;
  • redness under the skin;
  • anxiety;
  • skin rash;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • hallucinations;
  • loss of appetite;
  • vomiting;
  • itching.

Rare side effects may include:

  • blurred or double vision;
  • tightness in the chest;
  • a rapid heart rate;
  • changes in vision;
  • sudden confusion;
  • heart palpitations;

To be sure that this medication is safe for you, tell your healthcare provider if you have or have ever had:

  • coronary artery disease;
  • high blood pressure;
  • heart disease;
  • glaucoma;
  • type 2 diabetes;
  • alcoholism;
  • overactive thyroid;
  • liver disease;
  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
  • chronic bronchitis;
  • difficulty urinating;
  • pheochromocytoma (an adrenal gland tumor);
  • emphysema;
  • kidney impairment;
  • a cough with mucus;
  • COPD.

Drug Interactions

Do not use this decongestant if you are taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. In addition, this medication may negatively interact with other drugs, especially:

  • tranylcypromine;
  • rasagiline;
  • selegiline;
  • methylene blue injection (used to treat abnormal blood pigment levels);
  • phenelzine;
  • aleve;
  • reserpine;
  • isocarboxazid;
  • atropine;
  • linezolid;
  • mecamylamine;
  • alcohol;
  • St. John’s Wort;
  • drugs for enlarged prostate;
  • drugs for high blood pressure;
  • caffeine;
  • drugs for insomnia;
  • bretylium;
  • other meds for cold, cough, or allergy;
  • metoprolol (used for heart health);
  • procarbazine;
  • digoxin.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

It is not known exactly whether this decongestant will negatively affect an unborn baby, hence, do not use it without your healthcare professional’s advice if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Additionally, it may pass into the breast milk and harm the breastfed baby, therefore, avoid it if you are breastfeeding a baby.


Due to its stimulant effects (it can give a hyperactive feeling and increase heart rate and blood pressure), this decongestant is sometimes abused or used for non-medical purposes. However, it has a low risk of dependence and withdrawal symptoms are unlikely to develop after stopping the intake.


It is the brand name of a medication called loratadine that belongs to the class of medications called 2nd-generation antihistamines. This antihistamine blocks a substance that the human body releases when it is exposed to an allergen or things that the body is sensitive to.

This antihistamine was originally approved by the US FDA in 1993 and is manufactured by Bayer Healthcare, a German multinational pharmaceutical company.


It is used to treat seasonal allergic rhinitis as well as the symptoms of sneezing and a runny nose associated with the common cold and the flu. Also, people who suffer from chronic urticaria have experienced excellent relief as a result of their treatment with this antihistamine.


For allergic rhinitis, the usual recommended dosage for an adult is 10 mg orally once a day.

It comes in an oral (by mouth) liquid, chewable tablet, tablet, dissolvable tablet, and capsule form. Do not give this antihistamine to a child younger than 2 years old.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • diarrhea;
  • headaches;
  • dry mouth;
  • sleepiness;
  • tiredness;
  • dry throat;
  • stomach pain;
  • dry eyes.

Rare side effects may include:

  • liver damage;
  • passing out;
  • tightness in the chest;
  • low platelet count (thrombocytopenia);
  • an opposite reaction in which you feel nervous, jittery, or excited;
  • seizures.

Drug Interactions

Because this antihistamine may interact with other medications, tell your doctor what prescription and nonprescription drugs you are taking, especially:

  • tranquilizers;
  • vitamins;
  • sedatives;
  • meloxicam;
  • sleeping pills or alternative sleep treatments;
  • drugs for mood or psychological issues;
  • muscle relaxants;
  • pain medications;
  • St. John’s Wort;
  • mobic;
  • erythromycin (E-Mycin);
  • an MAOI drug;
  • medications for depression;
  • ketoconazole (Nizoral);
  • medications for asthma or colds;
  • any other cold or allergy medications;
  • any drugs which affect the nervous system;
  • narcotic pain medications.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

It is a pregnancy category B drug, which means it should not cause harm to an unborn child. However, you should alert your healthcare specialist if you are breastfeeding since it is not recommended that nursing women take this antihistamine.


Alcohol interacts badly with antihistamines like this one. In addition, alcohol is a depressant and can increase confusion and drowsiness which are common side effects of antihistamines.

Bottom Line – Sudafed vs Claritin

Sudafed (active ingredient – pseudoephedrine) is a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passages. It is used to treat sinus and nasal congestion.

Claritin (active ingredient – loratadine) is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of a natural chemical (and neurotransmitter) in the body, called histamine. This neurotransmitter can produce symptoms of sneezing, watery eyes, itching, and a runny nose.

Therefore, it is used to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies, like – watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and itching of the throat and nose as well as skin hives and itching in sufferers with chronic skin reactions.

Image credit – Shutterstock

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