Image for clarinexClarinex (desloratadine) is approved for the treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis and hives in people aged 6 months and older. For those who suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), the medicine can be used at age 2 and up.

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

SAR (or hay fever) occurs during specific times of the year when allergens (things you are allergic to) are in the air. Seasonal allergies are usually at their peak during spring and fall. Perennial allergic rhinitis is related to allergies present year-round, such as cat, dog, or dustmite.

When you breathe in an allergen, cells in your nasal passages release a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes your nose to feel itchy and increases swelling and mucus production in the nasal passages.

The following are symptoms of allergic rhinitis:

  • Sneezing
  • Itching in the nose, eyes, throat, and ears
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Runny nose, nasal congestion
  • Sinus pressure
  • Postnasal drip and cough
  • Headache
  • Dark circles under your eyes

About Clarinex

Clarinex, manufactured by Schering-Plough, is taken once daily as a 5 milligram tablet. It is a nonsedating antihistamine, which means it blocks the action of the released histamine without making you feel drowsy.

In studies conducted by the manufacturer, more than 2,300 people who have SAR took either Clarinex or a placebo. The age of the studies' participants ranged from 12-75. The clinical trials found that Clarinex, when taken once daily, significantly reduced nasal and non-nasal symptoms of SAR when compared with the placebo.

For perenial allergic rhinitis, more than 1,300 people aged 12-80 took Clarinex or a placebo. When taken once daily, allergy symptoms improved. In patients with chronic hives, 416 people aged 12-84 took Clarinex or placebo. Once again, those taking Clarinex found significant improvement in their symptoms (eg, itching, number of hives, and size of hives).

The most common side effects experienced by those taking Clarinex were:

  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Sore muscles

These side effects occurred at the same rate in the group that took Clarinex as compared with the group that took a placebo.

General Precautions

Clinical studies indicate people over the age of 65 probably do not need a change in the dose of Clarinex. Safety in children younger than 6 months has not been established. In addition, there have been no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women, and desloratadine, the main ingredient in Clarinex, passes into breast milk. So, if you are pregnant or nursing, talk with your doctor about possible alternative options for treating SAR.

Alternatives

Research is ongoing to develop effective treatments for seasonal allergies. Other antihistamines may help you manage your allergies, such as:

Talk to your doctor about the alternatives and what may work best for you.