alt=a woman experiencing an allergic reaction to pseudoephedrine

My Allergic Reaction to Pseudoephedrine

Allergic reactions to over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be quite scary and troubling. This was my experience with a reaction to pseudoephedrine, a common nasal decongestant. I hoped to feel better after taking this medicine for a sinus infection, but instead, I felt worse.

Having a bout of recurring sinus infections

In early 2005, I sought treatment for an issue with my sinuses. I had been having headaches along with pain and pressure in my sinuses for days. My face often felt puffy. I also had nasal congestion and postnasal drainage off and on.

Diagnosing the sinus infection

My primary care physician at the time did a physical exam as well as an x-ray of my sinuses. The doctor determined that I had a sinus infection. Over the next year, I developed 3 more sinus infections and 1 ear infection.

Trying to find effective treatment of my sinus infections

I did not take any prescription drugs for the first 2 sinus infections. Maybe that was because viruses can often cause these types of infections. My symptoms subsided over time.1

When I developed the third sinus infection, my doctor considered bacteria as a potential cause. The doctor prescribed antibiotics for me. As with each prior infection, my symptoms cleared up after a while and then reoccurred a few months later.

Can I be allergic to pseudoephedrine?

I remember what happened when I took pseudoephedrine for congestion when I developed a sinus infection for the fourth time. I experienced new symptoms shortly after taking the medicine. The first thing I noticed was my heart racing.

Other symptoms quickly followed. I became short of breath. I felt extremely nervous and disoriented. Delirious is the word that comes to mind when I recall what I underwent.

Seeking emergency care for the allergic reaction

I worked at a hospital when I had those symptoms after using pseudoephedrine. So, I called the hospital's employee clinic right away. I was able to see a doctor there fairly quickly.

The doctor said I had an allergic reaction. Based on what I had taken and my symptoms, pseudoephedrine was identified as the cause. I don't recall receiving any treatment to aid in the allergic reaction.

Deciding to stop taking the medicine

The doctor did direct me to stop taking pseudoephedrine. I did, of course. Although it took a little time, the disturbing symptoms went away.

I have not taken pseudoephedrine since this incident, even though this medicine is common for seasonal allergies, which I eventually found out I do have. The symptoms of the allergic reaction were awful. I do not want to go through that again.

Informing others of my drug allergies

When doctors and other healthcare providers ask if I have any drug allergies, I always tell them yes, to pseudoephedrine. Some ask what kind of symptoms I have when I take the drug. So, I share that too.

I also told family members and friends about what happened to me when I took pseudoephedrine. I tell other people about my experience to increase awareness of drug allergies. I believe greater awareness can help with recognizing, treating, and preventing such allergic reactions.

Have you ever been allergic to a drug used for a sinus infection, allergies, or another health condition?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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