Sudafed is an over the counter medicine used for nasal congestion due to cold, flu or allergies. Nasal congestion is a common and uncomfortable symptom of cold and it basically means stuffy nose.
Sudafed is a decongestant that works by affecting the blood vessels in the nose thanks to its ingredient called xylometazoline. It acts on the receptors found in the walls of blood vessels inside the nose and the sinuses, causing them to shrink. This removes swelling and congestion and it also reduces the mucus production, which is another factor responsible for the congestion.
This product comes in the form of a spray that brings relief within 10 minutes upon the application and the effects last for about 10 hours. It is applied once in each nostril two or three times a day for no longer than seven days.
Since it works by shrinking the blood vessels the amount of medicine that is absorbed into the blood is minimal. This means that there are no significant side effects for the entire body.
For reasons of hygiene, Sudafed should not be used for more than 28 days after it is opened. The spray should not be shared with others because it may carry the bacteria and other sources of infection.
Sudafed is for nasal use only it should not be applied orally or on other parts of the body.
Contraindications and risks
Sudafed should be used with caution for people who have heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and overactive thyroid gland.
People who should not use Sudafed at all are children younger than 12 years of age, pregnant women, people who recently underwent a neurosurgical procedure or have had their pituitary gland removed and people who have taken a MAOI antidepressant in the last 14 days.
This medicine should not be used by people who have allergies to one or more of its ingredients.
Sudafed side effects
Because Sudafed does not penetrate the blood system in larger amounts, side effects are fairly rare, but they have been reported in some cases. Generally, it depends on individual health constitution and possible medical conditions whether this medicine will produce side effects or not.
Possible side effects include tissue irritation inside the nose, burning, dryness or itching of the lining of the nose, nausea, headache and sneezing.
Sudafed is sold over the counter, meaning it does not require a prescription however it is recommended to consult the family physician who will decide if the medicine is suitable for the patient given his or her medical history and possible allergies.