Sudafed is a decongestant medication that is available over the counter. It works to relieve nasal and sinus congestion by stimulating certain receptors known as alpha-adrenergic receptors in the lining of the nose and sinuses. The medication comes in the form of immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, and a liquid. While most people tolerate it well, potential side effects include insomnia, rapid heart rate, and nervousness.
What Is Sudafed?
Sudafed® (pseudoephedrine hydrochloride) is a non-prescription decongestant medication. Uses of this drug include:
- Relieving nasal congestion due to allergies (such as hay fever) or the common cold
- Relieving sinus congestion and pressure.
Who Makes This Medication?
Brand-name Sudafed is made by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, while other versions of pseudoephedrine (including other brand-name medications or generic medications) are made by various other manufacturers.
Do I Need a Prescription for Sudafed?
You do not need a prescription to buy Sudafed in most states. However, any medication containing pseudoephedrine (including Sudafed) 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. These measures were put in place to decrease the use of pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine (see Abuse of Pseudoephedrine for more information).
Sudafed Versus Sudafed PE
Sudafed PE contains a different (but similar) decongestant that was made in order to help people avoid the hassle of the "behind the counter" rule for regular Sudafed. This article applies to regular Sudafed only.