The Independent Pharmacy

Fexofenadine Vs Loratadine: What's The Difference?

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 7 May 2024

The main difference between fexofenadine vs loratadine lies in how quickly they start working. Both fexofenadine (the generic version of Allevia) and loratadine (Clarityn) provide relief from allergy symptoms like sneezing and itchy eyes within 1-3 hours. Both are effective within this timeframe, and individual response times may vary.

Loratadine 10mg Tablets
Loratadine 10mg Tablets
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In terms of potential side effects, both medications have a low risk of causing drowsiness. However, loratadine is occasionally cited as having a slightly lower chance of sedation compared to fexofenadine for some patients, though the drowsiness risk is still generally low for both.

Both allergy medications belong to a class that helps block histamine. That is the natural substance released by the body that causes annoying allergic reactions. While very effective overall, it’s important to understand their specific pros and cons.

Seasonal allergies can hinder the enjoyment of your everyday activities. But understanding your options for allergy relief allows you to take control. Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Both fexofenadine and loratadine typically begin to provide relief within 1-3 hours of intake.
  • Fexofenadine and loratadine last for 24 hours with just one dose. This makes them equally convenient.
  • Both are effective for allergy relief with minimal risk of drowsiness. The choice may depend on personal response or preference.

Fexofenadine vs Loratadine at a Glance

Feature Fexofenadine Loratadine
How Fast It Works Provides relief in 1-3 hour Takes around 1-3 hours to start working
Drowsiness Risk Might cause sleepiness Might make you feel drowsy
Long-Lasting Relief Lasts 24 hours with 1 dose Also lasts all day & night with just 1 dose
Best For Rapid relief from severe allergies Avoiding grogginess during daily activities

Effectiveness in Relieving Hay Fever Symptoms


Fexofenadine, the active ingredient in Allevia, is an effective antihistamine for relieving all those annoying hay fever symptoms like sneezing fits, runny noses, and itchy, watery eyes. It works by blocking the release of histamine, the chemical responsible for causing allergic reactions.

Allevia 120mg Tablets
Allevia 120mg Tablets
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And how long do the hay fever tablets take to work? For most people, fexofenadine starts providing noticeable relief within 1-3 hours after taking a dose. Its effects typically last for a full 24 hours until your next scheduled dose.

Whether your allergies act up from the grass, trees, ragweed or other pollen sources, fexofenadine can offer excellent all-day and all-night relief to keep you comfortable.


Like fexofenadine, loratadine (the active ingredient in Clarityn) is also an antihistamine superstar when it comes to calming hay fever symptoms. It blocks those pesky histamines to quickly get sneezing, runny noses, itchy eyes and other allergic reactions under control.

Research from 2023 confirms that most people can expect loratadine to begin providing relief within 1-3 hours, though it may take slightly less to start working compared to fexofenadine for some individuals. But it remains effective for a full 24-hour period after taking a dose.

Loratadine can be a great option for combating hay fever, whether you’ll be spending extended periods outdoors, going on holiday, or just going about your normal day. Its long-lasting effects have you covered.

Side Effects and Safety


Fexofenadine is generally very safe. But according to the NHS, more than 1 in 100 people may experience mild side effects like:

  • Feeling a bit dizzy
  • Getting a dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or upset stomach

These aren’t too common, though.

A 2021 study in the Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology journal, fexofenadine shouldn’t cause any major issues for most people. But if you have certain medical conditions like kidney disease, your healthcare provider should take an extra close look before recommending it. We’d also need to be a little more cautious if you’re taking other medications.

If you notice anything weird after starting fexofenadine, like an upset stomach or headaches, call your doctor immediately. They can tell you if it’s no biggie or if you need to stop taking it.


Loratadine is also generally very safe, with minimal adverse effects for most people. The most common ones are just feeling a little tired or getting a headache, but these are pretty rare, appearing in more than 1 in 100 people based on the data from the NHS.

There is a very small chance of more serious side effects. But as long as you’re generally healthy and not taking certain other medications, the risks are extremely low. We’d just want to be a bit more careful if you have liver problems or another major health condition.

If you do experience unexpected effects like severe drowsiness or fast heart rate after starting loratadine, don’t hesitate to speak up! Your doctor can evaluate whether it’s cause for concern or just a minor blip.

The key with any medication is being open and honest about your response. Then, we can make sure you’re taking the safest, most effective option for your unique situation.

Medication Interactions and Safety Warnings


Fexofenadine is safe for most people. But there are a few instances where you’ll want to be extra careful:

  • If you’re taking certain antibiotics or antifungal medications, fexofenadine may not work as well or could cause issues. Always double-check with your doctor or pharmacist about mixing meds.
  • People with kidney problems need to be really cautious about taking fexofenadine. It can build up in your body and cause side effects. We’d want to adjust the dosage for our allergy patients with kidney issues.
  • You’ll also want to avoid apple juice and orange juice when taking fexofenadine. These can decrease the effects.

Fexofenadine usually plays nice, but not always. For a full list of potential interactions, make sure you go through the NICE's guidelines.

Make sure to give an allergy specialist or pharmacist a full list of what else you’re taking so they can make sure it’s 100% safe and effective for you.


Now for some key loratadine safety tips:

  • While it’s considered safe for kids and adults, you’ll want to steer clear of loratadine if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding without your doctor’s okay. The effects on babies aren’t fully known yet.
  • Certain medications can cause loratadine to not work properly or increase side effects. Antibiotics, antidepressants, and acid reflux drugs are some combinations to avoid unless a medical professional approves.
  • Loratadine may not be ideal if you have liver or kidney disease. The medicine could potentially cause problems for people with those conditions.

As with any drug, it’s always wise to have an open conversation with your pharmacist or allergy doctor about loratadine. Let them know your full medical history and medication list so they can double-check that loratadine is okay for you. And if you want to do some extra research, look through the NICE's list of interactions for loratadine.

How to Use These Medications


For adults, fexofenadine comes in an easy-to-use tablet form. The directions in the Patient Information Leaflet for fexofenadine are nice and simple. Just take one tablet daily with a glass of water.

It’s best to take your fexofenadine tablet in the morning so it can start providing allergy relief within an hour or so. That way, you can protect yourself against allergy symptoms for the full 24 hours.

Some people like to have their daily fexofenadine tablet with breakfast. Others prefer taking it a bit later if their allergies tend to flare up more in the afternoon or evening. The best time to take the tablets depends on your symptoms and preferences.


Loratadine also comes in a convenient tablet that adults only need to take once per day with a drink according to the Patient Information Leaflet. Most people find this super easy to fit into their daily schedule.

You’ll want to swallow your loratadine tablet in the morning, allowing it time to start circulating in your body before allergens can ruin your day. Having it with your morning coffee or breakfast is a common routine.

Others prefer taking their daily loratadine tablet a bit later, like mid-morning or lunchtime, if their allergies don’t tend to kick in until later. As long as you stick to that 24-hour schedule, you’re good!

How to Choose Between Fexofenadine and Loratadine

Fexofenadine and loratadine are effective options for relieving miserable hay fever symptoms. However, there are a few key differences that might make you prefer one over the other.

The biggest factor is how quickly you need the relief of symptoms. If you need to manage unpleasant symptoms like sneezing and itchy eyes as soon as possible, go for fexofenadine. Both fexofenadine and loratadine generally start working within 1-3 hours, though individual response times can vary.

NICE confirms that both fexofenadine and loratadine are generally considered to have a low risk of causing drowsiness. So, if you are driving, operating heavy machinery, or just really need to stay alert, these oral tablets may be a smart pick.

The good news is you really can’t go too wrong with either one. They’ll both get allergies under control so you can get back to enjoying life!

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Now that you know the key differences between fexofenadine and loratadine, it’s time to get that allergy relief you need! The Independent Pharmacy makes it easy.

Just take our quick online self-assessment about your allergic symptoms and health history. One of our pharmacy experts will review it and recommend the perfect allergy medication for you - maybe fexofenadine, loratadine, or something else.

Then, you can order your personalised allergy treatment right to your door with a few clicks. So convenient! Our pharmacy team is just an email or call away if you have any other questions. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

If you’d like to learn more about hay fever and how to deal with your symptoms, browse through our hay fever guides.

Take the first step today by filling in your self-assessment. Let’s get you feeling better.


Is fexofenadine better than loratadine?

Both fexofenadine and loratadine are excellent over-the-counter antihistamine options for treating allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny noses. Both fexofenadine and loratadine provide complete relief in just 1-3 hours for loratadine. Both medications effectively relieve allergy symptoms with a low risk of drowsiness. This makes either a good choice depending on individual effectiveness and tolerance.

Why is fexofenadine better than other antihistamines?

For many allergy sufferers, fexofenadine stands out because it starts relieving annoying symptoms like sneezing fits and itchy, watery eyes super quickly - often in just 1 hour after taking a tablet. It’s also long-lasting, keeping your allergies under control for a full 24 hours. This makes fexofenadine really convenient and effective compared to some other antihistamine medicines.

Which is the strongest antihistamine?

There’s no single “strongest” antihistamine medication since everyone’s body can respond a bit differently. But some allergy pills considered very effective include fexofenadine, cetirizine (Zirtek), and levocetirizine. Your best approach is to try one and see how well it manages your specific allergy symptoms and side effects. Don’t hesitate to ask a pharmacist for medical advice on finding the right “strong” antihistamine for you.

Is fexofenadine a strong antihistamine?

Yes, fexofenadine is considered a very potent antihistamine medication. It’s extremely effective at blocking histamine that triggers allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy throat and hives. For most allergy sufferers, fexofenadine provides powerful all-day and all-night relief from hay fever and other allergic reactions.


NHS (2021) Fexofenadine -

Gursharan Sidhu; Hossein Akhondi (2023). Loratadine -

Eli O. Meltzer, Nelson Augusto Rosario, Hugo Van Bever & Luiz Lucio (2021). Fexofenadine: review of safety, efficacy and unmet needs in children with allergic rhinitis -

Patient Information Leaflet: Fexofenadine 120mg -

Patient Information Leaflet: Loratadine 10mg -

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