Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant drug commonly used for relieving nasal congestion due to allergies or the common cold; it also relieves sinus congestion and pressure. It comes in several different forms, including immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, and a liquid. The medicine works by stimulating certain receptors known as alpha-adrenergic receptors. You do not need a prescription to buy this medication, but it is kept behind the pharmacy counter.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant found in many different medications. It comes most commonly as either pseudoephedrine sulfate or pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (there are no important differences between the two). Pseudoephedrine is especially useful for the following uses:
- Relieving nasal congestion due to allergies (such as hay fever) or the common cold
- Relieving sinus congestion and pressure.
It should be noted that many pseudoephedrine products also contain other active ingredients. This article focuses primarily on pseudoephedrine, not the other active ingredients in such products.
As with any medicine, pseudoephedrine can cause side effects. However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience bothersome side effects. Some people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
Possible side effects of pseudoephedrine include, but are not limited to:
- A rapid heart rate
- Heart palpitations.
(Click Pseudoephedrine Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects that you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)