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Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 25.04.2023 | 2 min read

Pseudoephedrine is used to temporarily relieve symptoms of congestion caused by cold, flu and allergies. It works by reducing the blood flow in your nose and reduces swelling and discomfort allowing you to breathe more easily. It is one of the active ingredients in many over-the-counter cold and flu medications such as Sudafed, Sinutab, Actifed as well as many others. It can come in many different formulations such as capsules, liquids and tablets and can only be purchased from a pharmacy.

Who is it for?

This medication can be used by patients over the age of 12, however some products with lower doses can be used in children over 6 years old under guidance from a pharmacist. It is used for relieving cold, flu and allergy symptoms associated with congested blocked noses.

How does it work?

Pseudoephedrine is what is known as a vasoconstrictor and works by constricting the blood vessels in the nose, this reduces blood flow which in turn reduces swelling. This leads to an improved ability to breathe through your nose and relieves discomfort associated with a blocked nose.

Should anyone avoid taking it?

Pseudoephedrine is not suitable for children below 6 years, and shouldn’t be taken alongside other decongestant medications. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should not use this medication unless directed by your doctor. You should speak to a pharmacist if you have a thyroid disorder, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.

Are there any side-effects?

As with any medications, some people are bound to get some unwanted side effects. Some of the common ones include nausea, headaches, dry mouth, agitation, nervousness, insomnia. In some rare cases people can develop fast, uneven or pounding heartbeats (palpitations). If this happens you should stop taking the medication and seek medical advice.

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