Do I HAVE to wait?
June 15, 2009 8:09 AM   Subscribe

How strict is the "24 hour" part of 24-hour Claratin?

I have a nasty cold. (and to make things even more fun, when I have bad sinus congestion, I get dizzy spells. Whee!) Usually Claratin works great, and I took a 24-hour Claratin at 6 pm last night. But it is now 11 am -- and the Claratin is already wearing off. I am feeling very stuffy again, and I'm feeling that severe-congestion-dizziness-fogginess as well.

Even though it's only been 17 hours, would it be okay if I went ahead and took the next dose now? I have the rest of the day at work to get through and I really need to breathe (and, stop feeling like I have a permanent beer buzz). However, I also don't want to end up on a speed high.

(Also, to fend off any such suggestions -- the local pharmacy where I am does NOT have any NetiPot or any similar sinus irrigation device.)

posted by EmpressCallipygos to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Drug metabolism rates can vary enormously, and depending on specific metabolic gene variants, as well as other medications (or social activities -- alcohol, smoking, caffeine), it certainly will not last 24 hours in all people. If it really seems to work, and wears off sooner, loratadine is a pretty safe drug and you could go ahead and take the next dose; a slightly higher than normal amount of claritin shouldn't have any ill effects other than maybe a greater likelihood of sleepiness.

That said, antihistamines aren't really the best way to clear a stuffy nose. Benadryl is probably the best at it but that's because it dries you up so much -- not a histamine-related effect even. If you are really congested, the decongestants are the best for dealing with that, with 3 options: Sudafed (no Rx but behind the counter), phenyleprhine ("sudafed PE" and all the decongestants now on the shelves), or a nasal spray. Afrin would do a good job with no sleepiness at all.

Feel better!
posted by davidnc at 8:17 AM on June 15, 2009

I had horrible allergies a few weeks ago and decided to try claritin (don't know why I waited so long!), but to get them under control, I took like 3 or 4 in a day. I asked the pharmacist what would happen if I took too many, and her response was that I would probably have hallucinations, but no really horrible side effects. People pay a lot more to hallucinate than they do for Claritin, so it seems like a hell of a deal. I would go ahead and take the next dose.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:27 AM on June 15, 2009

According to POISINDEX, taking less than 35 mg of loratadine did not result in significant toxicity. Having ≥40 mg is considered an overdose. Having a second 10-milligram Claritin 18 hours after the first one is very unlikely to kill you if you are an adult of normal weight and metabolic function not taking any other medications. (In fact, a 20 mg course has been prescribed for asthmatics without difficulty.)

Physicians have explained to me that it takes a couple of doses for loratadine to build up in your system, and at that point you just maintain it at a steady state.

Your pharmacy doesn't sell bulb syringes? Much easier than a neti pot.

Yeah, there's the question of whether claritin is really right for your symptoms, as well. It is approved for allergy relief, not treatment of the common cold. I'd stay away from Afrin as its use can eventually cause rebound congestion.

OTC drugs and remedies are made that way purposely to frustrate the consumer so he eventually opts for the more exepnsive remedy

Citation needed.

posted by grouse at 8:29 AM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Claritin is for allergies. It doesn't do anything to clear congestion itself, it just suppresses the histamine reaction to allergens that makes your nose water and itch. If you've got a cold, Claritin won't help you any more than you think it will. 2nding a decongestant like Sudafed.
posted by ulotrichous at 8:31 AM on June 15, 2009

thanks all, so far.

I gravitate towards Claritin because it's worked a treat for me in the past. I just also tend to use the 12-hour formula instead of the 24-hour.

I did also have a bad experience about 14 years ago when I took a 12-hour Sudafed, but then 4 hours later forgot that it had BEEN a 12-hour tablet and thought, "oh, it's been 4 hours, I can take more Sudafed" and I ended up twitching and pacing my living room until 3 am with my heart pounding and fretting I was going to have a stroke and die. I'd rather not repeat that either. (However, that was not only 14 years ago, it was also 40 POUNDS ago, and I may have, er, more physical mass to buffer myself.)

For the sake of argument, I will probably see how much longer I can tough it out and then just go ahead. thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2009

Sudafed (which is in Claritin-D) is a totally different kind of drug than vanilla Claritin. Avoiding a pseudoephedrine overdose is much more important.
posted by grouse at 8:39 AM on June 15, 2009

Lots of these answers change depending on which Claritin we're talking about. If it's the one sold OTC in the USA, it has no pseudoephedrine and is much safer and much less useful.

If it's the one sold OTC in Canada or Europe, it most certainly does, and that means (1) it will also clear congestion, and (2) THAT is the dangerous part when it comes to possible overdose.

(I stock up whenever in Canada, myself.)
posted by rokusan at 8:50 AM on June 15, 2009

From much experience with allergy meds, I'd say you're totally find to take Claritin 17 hours apart rather than 24. It does absolutely nothing for me (or a lot of people) but it is quite a safe drug.

Sudafed, because the reaction can be variable depending on stress, sleep, food, etc., I find is best controlled by using the regular 30 mg tablets, rather than the longer formulations. Most people react to it pretty quickly, within 20 min or so. Try taking one.

I don't use a "neti pot" per se. I have one of those little bulb syringes used for sucking the snot from a baby's nose, which I use to shoot a stream of salty water through my sinuses. My allergist, ENT, and GP all agreed that this is totally a fine, cheap substitute.
posted by desuetude at 8:52 AM on June 15, 2009

Ooh, I just realized I should clarify --

I am talking about the Claratin formula they keep behind the counter, so it very likely DOES have pseudoephedrine in it. I imagine that changes things, yes?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 AM on June 15, 2009

I am talking about the Claratin formula they keep behind the counter, so it very likely DOES have pseudoephedrine in it. I imagine that changes things, yes?

Yeah, don't take any more. Try to avoid caffeine while you're on it, too, if you want to avoid heart-poundiness.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:22 AM on June 15, 2009

I take Claratin-D every day for allergies and general stuffiness.
When I get sick I take Mucinex (in addition to C-D) for a few days to really expedite the clearing of all the nasty mucusy crap in my lungs, I recommend trying that if you've never had it before. Just take with a big glass of water and have something to hawk loogies into.
posted by ijoyner at 9:32 AM on June 15, 2009

That also explains why it wore off: the pseudophed wore off but the claratin itself is still working (which means it's not doing anything). Switch to real psuedophed.

I'm opposed to mixed drugs like Claratin-D because it confuses the consumer for sake of branding. I try to stick to just one drug per pill so I know what I'm taking.
posted by chairface at 9:34 AM on June 15, 2009

Ohh, yeah. Separate your drugs so you can control the dosages better, and don't layer up on Sudafed (as you have learned.) Personally, I don't find that sudafed plus antihistamine is a great combination because they seem to kick in and wear off in such totally different ways.
posted by desuetude at 9:59 AM on June 15, 2009

Yeah, if it's Claritin-D with pseudoephedrine in it, then I'd say don't take another.

If it was plain Claritin, then I can say from experience two is ok. I usually take one every morning during spring and summer. I also keep a stash in my desk drawer at work in case I forget at home. One day I got to work, forgot I'd already taken one, and took another. Oops. All that happened was I got a little sleepy for the morning, but by mid afternoon was all normal again.
posted by dnash at 11:28 AM on June 15, 2009

Loratadine has a half life of 8 hours. Therefore, 17 hours later, about 25% of the original dose remains in your system. Of course this from person to person, but there are adequate safety margins taken into account for recommended doses.

Given that "Extra strength" Claritin is just a double-dose, I'm sure having an extra 25% in your system is just fine.
posted by randomstriker at 12:11 PM on June 15, 2009

Anecdotally, I've taken 24-hour claritin (not-D) every twelve hours for a day or two, usually when I'm in a very dusty environment. I lived to tell the tale with no ill effects.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:20 PM on June 15, 2009

I once, in a very desperate congestion situation, used a turkey baster as a neti pot substitute. (Now no one will eat my turkey.)
posted by shiny blue object at 10:39 AM on June 16, 2009

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