Is Sudafed an Antihistamine?


Sudafed, brand name for the generic drug pseudoephedrine, is not an antihistamine. It is a decongestant that is available over-the-counter in the United States and Canada under various brand names and in generic form in most pharmacies and stores nationwide. Some brand names it is available under include: Chlor-Trimeton Non-Drowsy Decongestant, Dimetapp Decongestant, Triaminic Decongestant, Benylin Decongestant (Canada), Drixoral N.D. (Canada), and Maxenal (Canada). (An antihistamine, such as Benadryl, prevents the body's release of histamine, which is the body's way of fighting irritants or allergens that cause sneezing, congestion and other allergic reactions.)

Benefits of Pseudoephedrine

  • Pseudoephedrine acts as a vasoconstrictor in the sinuses to open nasal passages and shrink mucus membranes. This reduces the symptoms of "runny nose" and sinus pressure.

What Is Pseudoephedrine Used For?

  • Pseudoephedrine eases allergy and cold symptoms of congestion, cough, sinus pain and pressure, runny nose, and other symptoms. It is sold over the counter in tablet, capsule, liquid and syrup form (also as an extended-release formula). Some are available only by prescription.

Ear Infections

  • Pseudoephedrine is also effective on ear infections by draining fluid buildup in the ears. The ear canals are connected to the sinuses, and pseudoephedrine can be helpful in treating earaches and pressure around the ears.


  • If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor before using products containing pseudoephedrine (check the labels), as your dosage may be restricted or not safe for your baby. Certain serious side effects may occur with the elderly and young children/infants, with certain medications, and with certain health conditions.

Side Effects

  • Mild side effects include dizziness or lightheadedness, nervousness, mild insomnia, and heart palpitations. Severe side effects (from an overdose) include hallucinations, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, seizures and similar systemic trauma.

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