Benefits of Pseudoephedrine Nasal Decongestant

Although the risk-benefit profile of pseudoephedrine is hotly debated in the health care community, the drug's vasoconstrictive actions provide highly effective nasal congestion relief.

Although the risk-benefit profile of pseudoephedrine is hotly debated in the health care community, the drug’s vasoconstrictive actions provide highly effective nasal congestion relief.

Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine have been used effectively in traditional medicine for millennia and Western medicine for a century. In addition, the benefits of the 2 nasal decongestants have been strongly supported by a multitude of studies.

For instance, a recent review published in the European Annals of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Diseases related that the vasoconstrictive effects of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine last 5 to 6 times longer than endogenous epinephrine.

The review authors recounted other positive data from several studies that examined the use of pseudoephedrine for nasal congestion associated with the common cold, including a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in the American Journal of Rhinology that demonstrated improved nasal congestion without side effects when oral doses of pseudoephedrine 60 mg were taken for 3 days.

These favorable results in common cold symptoms have been reflected in other randomized trials on the use of pseudoephedrine in allergic rhinitis, the review authors reported. For instance, a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology concluded that 4 weeks of cetirizine 5 mg and pseudoephedrine 120 mg treatment was more effective than placebo in allergic rhinitis with moderate asthma. Another trial found that oral pseudoephedrine 240 mg taken for 15 days was more effective against nasal congestion associated with allergic rhinitis than montelukast 10 mg, an oral leukotriene receptor antagonist.

“The present review of the literature tends to show that their vasoconstrictive action on the nasal mucosa makes both ephedrine and pseudoephedrine highly effective against nasal congestion,” the review authors wrote.