Sudafed for the Common Cold

Sudafed® (pseudoephedrine hydrochloride) is a non-prescription medication that is available over the counter. Some people use Sudafed for the common cold, while others use it for allergies. The medicine is specifically used to:
  • Relieve nasal congestion due to allergies (such as hay fever) or the common cold
  • Relieve sinus congestion and pressure.
Sudafed is part of a class of drugs called decongestants. Specifically, it works by stimulating certain receptors known as alpha-adrenergic receptors. In the lining of the nose and sinuses, this action causes the blood vessels to constrict, allowing less fluid to leave the blood vessels and decreasing inflammation. This helps to relieve nasal and sinus congestion.
Although you do not need a prescription to buy Sudafed in most states, any medication containing pseudoephedrine is required to be kept behind the pharmacy counter. You will need to show identification to buy Sudafed, and you will be limited to a certain amount of the medication per month.
(Click Sudafed for more information on how the symptoms of the common cold can be treated with Sudafed, to find out what side effects may occur with this medication, and to learn about the warnings and precautions for this decongestant product.)
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