What is it?
First Aid

What is pseudoephedrine?

Pseudoephedrine is a medication used to treat congestion (a stuffy nose). It is found in many cold medications, including a number of Sudafed products. The label on the product will tell you if it contains pseudoephedrine.

You can buy pseudoephedrine without a prescription from a health care provider. It is also found in some prescription medications, such as Allegra-D.

Pseudoephedrine is safe when you use the right amount. It can be harmful if:

  • You take more than the amount recommended by your doctor or by the product label.
  • You take more than one product that contains pseudoephedrine.

People with high blood pressure, heart problems or an enlarged prostate, or who take an MAOI antidepressant (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) should not use pseudoephedrine. People with diabetes, thyroid problems, glaucoma, kidney problems or seizures should talk with their doctor before using pseudoephedrine.

In most cases, drug manufacturers do not recommend medications with pseudoephedrine for children under 4 years.

What are the symptoms of taking too much pseudoephedrine?

If you take too much of a medication with pseudoephedrine, you may:

  • Get a headache
  • Have hallucinations (see things that are not there)
  • Feel confused
  • Feel restless or irritable
  • Have an increase in heart rate or blood pressure
  • Have an irregular heartbeat
  • Have seizure and convulsions
  • Have a heart attack or stroke

Children who get too much pseudoephedrine may become hyperactive, or they may get drowsy instead.

What should I do if someone has taken too much pseudoephedrine?

If someone has taken too much pseudoephedrine, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511. We can also answer other questions you have about pseudoephedrine.

If someone has passed out or is not breathing, call 911 right away.

How can I prevent pseudoephedrine poisonings?

To prevent pseudoephedrine poisonings:

  • Read the label on the bottle each time you take a medication. The label will tell you what the medication is, what it is for, how much to take and possible problems you could have.
  • If you have any questions about your medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist, or contact the poison center—call 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511.
  • If you are taking more than one medication, keep track of them with a written schedule. Also keep a list to share with your doctors and pharmacist.
  • Safely get rid of unwanted or expired medication.

Last Updated: Thursday June 11th 2015