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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