What Is Pseudoephedrine Used For?

Pseudoephedrine is a medication that is used for relieving nasal congestion due to allergies or the common cold. It can also be used to promote nasal and sinus draining and relieve sinus congestion and pressure. Healthcare providers may also occasionally recommend off-label uses of pseudoephedrine, such as for the treatment of priapism or ear infections. Some forms of this medication are approved for use in children ages four and older.

An Overview of Pseudoephedrine Uses

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant medication. It is most often used for the following purposes:
  • Relieving nasal congestion due to allergies (such as hay fever) or the common cold
  • Relieving sinus congestion and pressure
  • Promoting nasal and sinus draining.

How Does It Work?

Pseudoephedrine is part of a class of drugs called decongestants. Specifically, it works by stimulating certain receptors known as alpha-adrenergic receptors. In the lining of the nose and sinuses, this action causes the blood vessels to constrict, allowing less fluid to leave the blood vessels and decreasing inflammation. This helps to relieve nasal and sinus congestion.
When used for allergy symptoms, pseudoephedrine seems to be especially useful when combined with an antihistamine.

Can Children Use It?

Some pseudoephedrine products are approved for use in children ages four years and older. As with all cold medications, pseudoephedrine should not be used in children under four years old.

Off-Label Uses for Pseudoephedrine

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend pseudoephedrine for something other than the approved uses discussed above (this would be known as an "off-label" use). Off-label uses of this drug include the treatment of the following conditions:
  • A painful, prolonged erection of the penis (priapism)
  • Fluid buildup in the ear (such as with an ear infection)
  • Involuntary leakage of urine during various activities, such as laughing or coughing (known as stress urinary incontinence).
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Pseudoephedrine Drug Information

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