Pseudoephedrine is a nonprescription medication for blocked nose relief. Sudafed is a common medication containing pseudoephedrine. People should limit alcohol while taking pseudoephedrine.

The class of medications pseudoephedrine belongs to is nasal decongestants. It is usually available in tablet form. However, there is also a liquid form of pseudoephedrine available.

People may take pseudoephedrine when they are experiencing conditions that cause a blocked nose, such as a cold.

Although people do not require a prescription to get pseudoephedrine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires the medication to be kept behind the pharmacy counter.

Some of the brand names people may be familiar with containing pseudoephedrine may include:

  • Sudafed
  • Suphedrine
  • Decofed
  • Advil Allergy Sinus
  • allergy medications, such as Claritin-D, Allegra-D, and Zyrtec-D

People may sometimes confuse pseudoephedrine with phenylephrine, which is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication with similar brand names, such as Sudafed PE.

In this article, we look at how alcohol interacts with pseudoephedrine. We also list the possible side effects, other interactions, and how other decongestants interact with alcohol.

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A person can drink alcohol while taking pseudoephedrine. However, they should limit the amount they consume because it may cause side effects and make them feel the effects of alcohol more than usual.

Drinking alcohol with any form of medication may carry risks. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that many drugs, including nonprescription medications, may be harmful when combined with alcohol.

A 2018 study states that mixing medications with alcohol may result in adverse side effects. The authors say the effects may be worse for individuals in later life, concluding that some older people mix alcohol and medication regularly.

Another study from 2015 suggests that mixing alcohol and medications is common in the United States. The researchers state this could pose some health risks.

However, the study looked into prescription rather than nonprescription medications such as pseudoephedrine. Although the researchers published the study in 2015, they assessed the data from 1999 to 2010.

Pseudoephedrine is a stimulant, and alcohol is a depressant.

Some older research investigated the combination of stimulants and depressants in rats, using cocaine as the stimulant and diazepam as the depressant. Diazepam is a type of antidepressant doctors recommend to treat anxiety.

The researchers concluded that drug interactions between stimulants and depressants are complex and relate to dosage, and the side effects are unpredictable.

The NIAAA says that a person may experience the following side effects if they combine alcohol with certain medications:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • fainting
  • dizziness
  • loss of coordination

In extreme cases, a person combining alcohol and some medications may also be at risk for:

Taking pseudoephedrine with alcohol could increase a person’s risk of overdose.

Combining medication and alcohol could make the medication less effective. It can also intensify the effects of alcohol, particularly drowsiness and concentration difficulties.

Pseudoephedrine may have adverse effects when combined with other medications.

Medications that may negatively interact with pseudoephedrine include:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs are antidepressants that include isocarboxazid (Marplan) and phenelzine (Nardil). People should not take pseudoephedrine if they have taken MAOIs in the last 2 weeks.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include amitriptyline, doxepin, and imipramine.
  • Digoxin: A drug for treating heart failure and unusual heart rhythms.
  • Ergot alkaloids: Usually used for the treatment of migraine. An example of an ergot alkaloid is ergotamine.

A person should consult a pharmacist or doctor if unsure of the medications they can take alongside pseudoephedrine. They should inform a doctor if they are taking any of the following:

  • prescription medications
  • nonprescription medications
  • vitamins
  • supplements
  • herbal remedies

People should also consult a doctor before taking pseudoephedrine if they have or have ever had:

People should tell a doctor before taking pseudoephedrine if they are pregnant, nursing, or about to have surgery.

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant. Decongestants temporarily relieve a blocked nose.

A blocked nose may result from virus-infected cells. The tissues inside the nose lining may swell and become inflamed, resulting in nasal congestion.

Pseudoephedrine narrows these blood vessels in the nose, reducing the swelling and helping mucus and air pass through more easily, aiding breathing.

However, pseudoephedrine does not just narrow the blood vessels in the nose. It also limits the blood vessels throughout the body, increasing blood pressure levels.

There is minimal information regarding the relationship between decongestants and alcohol. However, a person should check with a doctor or pharmacist before having them together.

Mixing alcohol with any medication can cause side effects, including OTC medicines such as decongestants and prescription medications.

Other examples of decongestants that may potentially negatively interact with alcohol include:

  • naphazoline
  • oxymetazoline
  • phenylephrine
  • propylhexedrine
  • xylometazoline

Pseudoephedrine is a nasal decongestant a person may take if they have a condition that causes a blocked nose.

People can drink alcohol with pseudoephedrine. However, they should limit their intake as the two could interact with one another, resulting in adverse side effects.

Pseudoephedrine may also interact with several other medications. A person should always discuss any current medications, including herbal remedies, vitamins, or supplements, with a doctor or pharmacist before using pseudoephedrine-containing products.