Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Should I take an over the counter allergy medicine like Claritin all year round?"
Took Claritin for my allergies this summer. Should I just keep taking all year round to help with my symptoms. Are there any health risks to taking the medicine all the time?
Claritin, or loratidine, is a type of anti-histamine that works to reduce the symptoms of allergies. Allergies are fairly common symptoms that can be very troubling to some people and not at all bothersome to others. I would recommend that you discuss this with your doctor. As with any medicine or medical intervention, there are certain risks and certain benefits -- and balancing those is helpful in making a decision regarding if you should be taking the medicine. First, a word on the medicine: Claritin is a commonly used medication that blocks the white blood cells in your body (known as mast cells) from releasing histamine -- the chemical substance that causes the allergic process and therefore the allergic symptoms. It does nothing to stop allergies themselves -- simply covers the symptoms. So taking the medicine all the time doesn't cure allergies--just helps with the symptoms. That is the benefit of the medicine. There are some rare problems with claritin. Some people can develop nausea or vomiting from it. Some people can get a dry mouth or dry eyes. Rarely, there can be heart problems. All in all, it is a very safe medicine -- but like any medicine there are risks. If your symptoms are bad and the medicine helps -- you should take it. If not, then taking a medicine for no reason doesn't make sense. Please talk to your doctor for more information.
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