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Pseudoephedrine

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Pseudoephedrine is a nasal decongestant active ingredient available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that relieves 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 label directions. If you have a preexisting health condition like high blood pressure or heart disease, check with a healthcare professional before using a medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

*Pseudoephedrine may not be contained in all products sold under these brands. Please read the OTC Drug Facts label carefully for active ingredient information for specific products.

Tips for Medicines with Pseudoephedrine

When using pseudoephedrine-containing medicines, it is important to know that:

  • You should never use more medicine than what is recommended on the label.

Do not use if:

  • You are currently taking a prescription monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (certain drugs for depression, psychiatric or emotional conditions, or Parkinson’s disease) or if you stopped taking an MAOI less than two weeks ago.

Ask a healthcare professional before use if:

  • You have high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, or trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • 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 doctor or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

Additional information:

While pseudoephedrine is safe and effective when taken as directed, certain individuals break the law to buy combining household ingredients, including pseudoephedrine, 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.

If you have questions about any of the medicines you are taking or if you have any unexpected side effects, talk to a healthcare professional. And of course, keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.

Tips for Parents

  • Do not give a medicine containing pseudoephedrine to a child under the age of four.
  • Pseudoephedrine-containing medicines are available in different dosage strengths. Do not give any OTC medicine to a child that is only intended for use in adults.
  • Read the label for proper child dosing instructions. Contact a healthcare professional as directed.

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