ATC Code R01BA02
Formula C10H15NO
Molar Mass (g·mol−1) 165.23
Physical State solid
Melting Point (°C) 119
PKS Value 10.3
CAS Number 90-82-4
PUB Number 7028
Drugbank ID DB00852
Solubility moderate in water


Pseudoephedrine is an indirect sympathomimetic from the chemical class of phenethylamines and amphetamines. It is used as a decongestant for the nose and sinuses in cold symptoms and in priapism. It can also be used as a stimulant or in higher doses as an awakening agent and is often abused for these effects. It was first characterized in 1889 by the German chemists Ladenburg and Oelschlägel of the Merck company in Darmstadt. They isolated the substance from a sample of the plant Ephedra vulgaris, which has long been used in traditional Eastern medicine. The decongestant effect of pseudoephedrine was first described in 1927 in animal experiments.



Pseudoephedrine causes vasoconstriction leading to a decongestant effect. It has a short duration of action. Pseudoephedrine acts mainly as an agonist at alpha-adrenergic receptors and less strongly as an agonist at beta-adrenergic receptors. This agonism causes vasoconstriction of the blood vessels, giving them less surface area for fluid to pass through, leading to decongestion of the affected regions. Less mucus is also produced in the upper airways, relieving symptoms.


Pseudoephedrine is approximately 6% bound to human serum albumin. The majority of the administered dose of pseudoephedrine is excreted unmetabolized in the urine. The mean elimination half-life of pseudoephedrine is approximately 6 hours.

Drug Interactions

Use of pseudoephedrine together with other sympathomimetics (tricyclic antidepressants, MAO inhibitors, psychostimulants, amfetamine-type anorectics, etc.) may result in an increase in blood pressure. Pseudoephedrine may weaken the effect of antihypertensive agents (e.g., beta-blockers).


Side effects

Common adverse drug reactions include.

  • Stimulation of the central nervous system
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Excitability
  • Dizziness
  • Bladder emptying disorders
  • Anxiety

Rare adverse reactions include:

  • Tachycardia
  • Palpitations
  • Mydriasis (dilated pupils)
  • Hallucinations
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Hypertension
  • Seizures
  • Ischemic colitis


  • Hypersensitivity or allergy to pseudoephedrine
  • Hypertension
  • Pre-existing bladder emptying disorders
  • Severe hepatic or renal insufficiency
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

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All information used for the content comes from verified sources (recognised institutions, experts, studies by renowned universities). We attach great importance to the qualification of the authors and the scientific background of the information. Thus, we ensure that our research is based on scientific findings.

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter is a writer on pharmaceutical topics in Medikamio's medical editorial team. He is in the last semester of his pharmacy studies at the University of Vienna and loves scientific work in the field of natural sciences.

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Stefanie Lehenauer has been a freelance writer for Medikamio since 2020 and studied pharmacy at the University of Vienna. She works as a pharmacist in Vienna and her passion is herbal medicines and their effects.

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