Different decongestants are available for treating nasal or sinus congestion, with different outcomes. Congestion attributed to the common cold results in the build-up of mucus, with the individual having a stuffy or runny nose. Other symptoms of the condition include sinus pain and nasal tissue that is swollen. While most of the treatments for common cold are typically home remedies, it may be necessary for medications to treat the condition more effectively. Popular decongestants include Pseudoephedrine, intranasal decongestants, intranasal corticosteroids and antihistamines. We will take a detailed look at the side effects of Sudafed and effective methods to control or mitigate the side effects.
Drug overview and side effects of Sudafed
To understand the side effects of Sudafed it is necessary to learn more about the drug and its mechanism of action. Belonging to the category of sympathomimetic amine, Pseudoephedrine is commonly known as Sudafed. As a decongestant it is used for treating various conditions that associated with common cold, including flu associated with common cold and cough. Nasal allergies, nasal congestion, sore throat, and sinus congestion are some of the other conditions that may require the use of decongestants. The history of the drug stretches to almost a hundred years when it was studied in dogs. Present naturally in the ephedra plant, the formulation has been used throughout the ages in traditional oriental medication.
Presently available as a tablet, extended-release tablet, in liquid form, liquid filled capsule and syrup, the decongestant is typically used for treating conditions caused by:
• Common cold
• Hay fever
• Eat inflammation (for treating ear congestion)
• Infection related congestion
Mechanism of action and side effects of Sudafed
Here’s a quick look at the mechanism of action of the medication before we look at the side effects of Sudafed. The medication works by vasoconstriction that results in the decongestant effect. It is important to add here that the decongestant does not have a long duration of action and is effective only for a relatively shorter period. However, it is also available with a longer duration of action when made as an extended-release formulation. It works by binding primarily to the alpha-adrenergic receptors, with a relatively lesser binding action on the beta-adrenergic receptors. Asa result of this binding with adrenergic receptors, the medication causes vasoconstriction, helping in it being used for treating congestion. The medication additionally works by inhibiting select neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine and norepinephrine.
Additionally, the medication is also used for managing a separate condition medically known as priapism. Other effects of the medication include increased arterial pressure, and an increase in rate of heart beat. One of the reasons for off label uses of the medication by veterinarians for the treatment of incontinence in dogs, cats is the agonist effect of pseudoephedrine no the anococcygeal muscle.
What is the recommended dosage for the medication?
One of the reasons for side effects of Sudafed could also be incorrect dosage. The decongestant is recommended in different dosages depending on the requirement. Whenever prescribed, it is necessary to follow the recommendations of the specialist diligently. In the event the decongestant is taken as an over-the-counter option, it is important to follow the recommendations printed on the label. Easy to understand recommendations and suggested average dosages are printed on the label. This could serve as guidance for individuals who are unaware of the right dosage.
Various factors are typically considered when the dosage is assessed to avoid side effects of Sudafed. For instance, the strength of the medicine or the formulation is the first consideration. Secondly, the need for multiple doses per day is considered, along with the gap between doses. Finally, the duration over which the medication needs to be taken is assessed. This would effectively depend on the condition and the intensity of the condition. Typical average doses for various conditions are as outlined here. For nasal congestion or sinus congestion, Pseudoephedrine is taken either as tablets, in capsule form, or as liquid solution. It is not to be administered to infants till the age of four, and the following doses pertain to formulations with a short duration of action. Children between the ages of four to six are recommended to take around 15mg once in every six hours with an upper limit of 60 mg per day. For children between the ages of six to twelve, the dosage is double – 30 mg once every six hours with an upper limit of 120 mg per day. The ideal dosage for children above 12 years of age and adults is around 60mg for six hours, with the total dosage not to exceed 240 mg per day.
The same medication when taken as extended-release formulation witnesses a change in dosing patterns to avoid side effects of Sudafed. For instance, extended-release Pseudoephedrine is not recommended to be used for children till the age of twelve years. This effectively makes it suitable for only one category of users – individuals above the age of twelve years. The average dosage is uniform throughout the category. Individuals are recommended to take 120 mg twice a day, or 240 mg once every day, with the total dosage not to exceed 240 mg per day in either of the options.
How to identify if there has been an overdose of the medication?
Among the side effects of Sudafed are effects that are attributed to overdose. Here are easily discernible symptoms that indicate possibility of an overdose of the medication. Seizures or convulsions are often the most common symptom that could be observed as a result of an overdose of the medication. A sudden increase in breathing pattern is also an indication of a possible overdose. Patients who have taken more than the recommended dose are also likely to experience an increase in blood pressure levels. Additionally, the rate of heart beat couldeither increase, decrease or be irregular in nature. This is also a possible clear indication of an overdose. Patients may also experience a sudden shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing that could be attributed to a possible overdose. Finally, the behaviour of the patient could also change as a result of overdose. Patients are known to exhibit some kind of nervousness, or be restless in conduct, apart from experiencing hallucinations as a result of an overdose of the decongestant.
Side effects of Sudafed: patients who are advised to exercise caution
Patients with certain pre-existing conditions are advised to exercise caution or stay off the medication depending on the condition/intensity. For instance, patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus may experience an increase in blood glucose levels as a result of the medication. Similarly, individuals with an enlarged prostate are also likely to experience undesirable side effects of Sudafed and it is necessary to seek medical advice. By virtue of the mechanism of action of the decongestant (vasoconstriction), the medication also has an effect on individuals with glaucoma. The decongestant is also likely to impact or aggravate the condition of patients with high blood pressure. On a related note, the medication could also adversely affect patients with heart ailments or blood vessel disease. Finally, the medication also has undesirable effects on individuals with overactive thyroid, as the condition is likely to aggravate.
Side effects of Sudafed that require medical attention
Commonly reported side effects of Sudafed include side effects may require some kind of medical intervention. For instance, certain adverse effects need to be brought to the notice of the treating specialist or healthcare provider. Seizures that occur after taking the medication is a cause for concern and needs to be addressed. Individuals who experience any kind of convulsions upon taking the decongestant need medical attention. Similarly, patients who experience any change in the rate of heartbeat, also require medical attention. For instance, it is possible that heartbeat rate may slow down or end up with an irregular pattern. Individuals who experience these conditions are advised medical attention. There is also the possibility of individuals experiencing difficulty in breathing or may have shortness of breath when indulging in routine activities. It is necessary to seek advice of medical specialists in such conditions. Finally, patients may also observe or experience feelings of hallucinations after taking the medications. All the above conditions are generally rare in nature, and do not occur frequently or to all individuals on decongestants.
Side effects of Sudafed that are common but may not require medical attention
There are side effects of Sudafed that are common in nature, but may not require medical attention. These side effects are known to resolve naturally over a period of time and do not require any form of intervention. For instance, some degree of nervousness or restlessness is possible as a result of the medication. If it is not too severe or intense, it may not require any additional intervention and would resolve naturally. Similarly, individuals are also known to report a lack of adequate sleep or inability to sleep deeply as a result of the medication. This is also related to the conditions listed above and will most likely resolve naturally.
Side effects of Sudafed that are not frequent in nature
Certain side effects of Sudafed are not very frequent in nature and depending on the intensity may or may not require medical intervention. For instance, individuals sometimes report difficulty while urinating after the taking the medication. This could also be accompanied by pain. There is also the possibility of experiencing a trembling sensation as a result of taking the medication. Some kind of weakness that is not attributed to any other condition is also likely to manifest in patients on the medication. A dizzy feeling could be experienced by patients as a result of the mechanism of action of the decongestant. This could also be accompanied by a headache. A sudden spike in heartbeat rate has also been reported by a small number of patients on the decongestant. Visible symptoms include an abnormal pale appearance that could indicate a possible side effect. Patients are known to experience nausea or vomiting sensation when on the medication. Finally, individuals may also sweat profusely or witness increased sweating that is not attributed to the weather or physical activity. Depending on the condition it may sometimes be necessary to seek medical intervention.