What Are the Most Common Side Effects of Pseudoephedrine?


  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is a common decongestant that is sold behind the counter due to the risk of misuse to make methamphetamine.
  • Pseudoephedrine works by stimulating alpha-adrenergic receptors which causes vasoconstriction of nasal blood vessels, therefore decreasing congestion.
  • The max amount a consumer can purchase in one day is 3.6 grams, and the max purchasable amount in a month is 9 grams.
  • To answer this inquiry, we will use information from Lexicomp as well as Micromedex.

Clinical Data

Due to its high use by consumers, it is important to know the adverse effects of pseudoephedrine. It is an effective medication in relieving congestion but comes with its own set of precautions and potential adverse effects [1]. Pseudoephedrine can cause cardiovascular side effects such as cardiac arrhythmia, chest tightness, hypertension, and others. It potentially causes hypertension which is why it should be avoided in patients with uncontrolled hypertension. Pseudoephedrine also has the potential to cause central nervous system side effects such as ataxia, confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, and insomnia. Consumers must be counseled to take pseudoephedrine in the morning due to its ability to cause insomnia [2] and be activating. Pseudoephedrine can also cause tremors weakness, blurred vision, and tinnitus or ringing of the ears. Overall pseudoephedrine is an effective decongestant that is commonly used to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies and viral infections. It carries a side effect profile that can be bothersome for patients and should be avoided in those with uncontrolled hypertension.


  1. Pseudoephedrine Drug Information: Treatment and Prevention. In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021.
  2. Pseudoephedrine: Adverse effects. (2021). In Micromedex (Columbia Basin College Library ed.) Retrieved April 08, 2021, from

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