Pseudoephedrine Vs Phenylephrine

Pseudoephedrine vs Phenylephrine
Like Dislike Save
When is Sudafed® not Pseudoephedrine? Comparing two tiny, red pills that are entirely different medications.

• Health: Medical • Health: Tips & Tricks

Pseudoephedrine is a medication that treats sinus related congestion and pressure pain. It's also know as Sudafed®, which is a brand name of the generic medication. Sudafed® is an over the counter (or behind the counter) drug available at most pharmacies, grocery stores, and mega-marts.

Because some creative types like to use Pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine (meth), the product is often available only behind the counter. Meaning, it's going to be behind locked glass or you'll need to ask the pharmacist for it. No prescription is needed.

I've had the occasional sinus pain in my life and every now and then a Sudafed® helped. For me, I've maybe used a few per year. But at one point they just stopped working and I didn't know why.

That's when I realized that Sudafed® is not always Sudafed®. Or, more precisely, Sudafed® is not always Pseudoephedrine.

As it turns out, Sudafed® Congestion is the product that contains Pseudoephedrine. Those tiny little red pills contain 30mg of Pseudoephedrine.

The same company makes an entirely different product with a similar name called Sudafed PE® Congestion. The one with the PE in the name is Phenylephrine (10mg). These pills are also tiny and red, just like the other kind with Pseudoephedrine. Confusing, right?

Both Pseudoephedrine and Phenylephrine treat sinus congestion and pressure, but different types. Phenylephrine (found in Sudafed PE®) treats sinus congestion and pressure caused by colds or allergies. Pseudoephedrine (found in Sudafed®) treats sinus pressure and congestion by reducing swollen nasal passages.

Apparently, when I get a sinus headache it must be caused by swollen nasal passages. So, I was taking the wrong medicine because I thought Sudafed® was the same as Sudafed PE®. More importantly, the "PE" never actually caught my eye and thus I never knew two different drugs existed.

Now I know, and so do you. If you're looking for the "original red sinus pill" then you might be looking for Pseudoephedrine. Check the ingredients on the package to know for sure. As always, the generic equal should work the same. Still confused? Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for proper guidance. After all, maybe neither is the product for you.