Pseudoephedrine is a nasal decongestant active ingredient available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that relieve a stuffy nose or sinus pressure due to the common cold or other ailments. It may be written as pseudoephedrine, pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (HCl), or pseudoephedrine sulfate, but each has the same effect in the human body. Pseudoephedrine can be the only active ingredient in a nasal decongestant medicine or it can be found in medicines that not only relieve a stuffy nose, but other symptoms as well such as allergies, headache, or cough.
Pseudoephedrine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to Drug Facts label. If you have a pre-existing health condition like high blood pressure or heart disease, check with a healthcare provider before using a medicine containing pseudoephedrine.
- You should never use more medicine than what is recommended on the Drug Facts label.
- You have high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, or trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You are currently taking a prescription monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (found in certain drugs for depression, psychiatric or emotional conditions, and Parkinson’s disease), or if you stopped taking an MAOI less than two weeks ago.
- You get nervous, dizzy, or are unable to sleep.
- Your symptoms do not improve within seven days or are accompanied by a fever.
- You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
- Do not give a medicine containing pseudoephedrine to a child under the age of 4.
- Pseudoephedrine-containing medicines are available in different dosage strengths. Do not give any OTC medicine that is only intended for use in adults to a child.
- Read the Drug Facts label for proper child dosing instructions. Contact a healthcare provider as directed.
- Click here for more information on giving OTCs to children.
- While pseudoephedrine is safe and effective when taken as directed, certain individuals break the law by combining pseudoephedrine with household ingredients to make the illicit street drug methamphetamine. In an effort to prevent these “meth cooks” from producing this dangerous drug, OTC medicines containing pseudoephedrine are located behind the retail sales counter. This does not affect your access to the safe and effective medicines you need. All you have to do is sign a log book and show identification at the time of purchase.