Everything You Need To Know About Sudafed And Alcohol
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Everything You Need To Know About Sudafed And Alcohol
No one likes getting a cold.
Being sick can feel awful, be incredibly disruptive, and viruses have a nasty way of taking hold at the worst possible moment.
The only good thing about getting a cold is that we have a lot more treatment options these days. There are a lot of drugs on the market that are designed to give you specific relief from the symptoms of a cold, some of them generalists that take care of everything, and other medications more targeted and designed to handle one or two specific symptoms rather than everything at once.
Sudafed is one of those drugs designed to help with the symptoms of a cold and is generally effective and works well for most people.
There can be more problems though if you’re tempted to combine Sudafed and alcohol. Sure, a shot of whiskey might be a folk cure for viral illnesses, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to combine alcohol with cold medications.
Here’s what you need to know about Sudafed, combining Sudafed and alcohol, and whether combining Sudafed and alcohol is a bad sign.
What Is Sudafed
Most people only really know that Sudafed is a kind of cold medication and not much more. That’s okay as long as Sudafed is the only medication you’re taking, but not knowing what goes into your cold medicine can cause more problems if you’re taking more than one medication.
Even some prescription medications may change the way cold medicine works, so you should always clarify with your doctor if you’re okay to take Sudafed or other cold medicine with new medications.
Sudafed is a brand name for the drug, pseudoephedrine.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant, which means that it primarily works on your sinuses to help relieve sinus pressure. It can also be useful for reducing coughing and other respiratory symptoms from colds and flus.
You can combine Sudafed with other medications, but you shouldn’t use more than one decongestant, even different kinds of decongestants, at the same time. You should also check to make sure there aren’t any other medications in the cold medicine you take, since each medication will have its own risks and restrictions, and you shouldn’t ever take more than one of the same class of medication.
How Does Sudafed Work?
Sudafed works by reducing inflammation and irritation around your sinuses, constricting the blood vessels in your sinuses to make more room.
That’s a little different from medications that work to reduce the amount of mucus your body produces while sick, medications that encourage you to cough to get rid of mucus, or medications that reduce fevers and the aches and pains of a cold.
Some types of Sudafed are combined with other medications that do some of those other things, often an anti-inflammatory medication to help control fevers and aches and pains, and sometimes other medications to calm your respiratory system or to help keep you awake or help you sleep. Daytime and nighttime formulas are generally a little different.
If you aren’t certain how to take Sudafed, or what medications it contains, you can always look at the information on the back of the packaging. It should provide an ingredient list, what medications you shouldn’t combine with Sudafed, and how much and how often you should take the medication.
Side Effects Of Taking Sudafed
Cold medicine is designed to make you feel better, but it can come with some unwanted side effects too. Some people have no side effects at all when they are taking Sudafed, and other people may have side effects more severe than the symptoms they are trying to overcome.
Common side effects of Sudafed include:
- Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty urinating
- Low appetite
- Muscle tremors
- (rare) blurred vision
In addition to the common side effects, Sudafed can also have rare and potentially dangerous adverse effects. If you have any of these side effects you need to contact your doctor or get immediate medical attention:
- Abnormally high blood pressure
- High heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme nausea
- More than occasional vomiting
- Severe or distressing anxiety
Any of these side effects may get better or worse on their own, but they can also be signs of potentially serious reactions that require treatment. It’s better to reach out to your doctor and not need it than to wait for the symptoms to resolve on their own.
In addition to those potential side effects, people who have a history of high blood pressure or heart problems should be careful when taking Sudafed to make sure they don’t have more serious complications.
Is It Dangerous To Combine Sudafed And Alcohol?
It’s not necessarily dangerous specifically to take Sudafed and alcohol together, but it can cause increased risk from the side effects of both drugs, and you should exercise care any time you take these medications together.
One of the problems with taking Sudafed and alcohol together is that Sudafed is a stimulant while alcohol is a depressant but also has some stimulant properties.
That means that Sudafed can mask the feeling of intoxication and make it harder for you to judge what a safe amount of alcohol is, how your body is actually responding, and whether you’re getting any additional side effects compared with drinking without taking Sudafed.
You may also fail to notice serious side effects while using these medications together, costing you time between the start of the interaction and getting medical attention. That lost time can sometimes cause worse outcomes and other problems.
Why Do People Take Sudafed And Alcohol Together?
With the added risks of taking Sudafed and alcohol together, you might be wondering why people would do it in the first place.
There are a few reasons someone might take these two drugs together. One is simply that they don’t know that there can be risks from doing so. There aren’t known interactions between Sudafed and alcohol that merit a warning label, so neither container will tell people not to take them together, unlike many other medications.
Some people also use alcohol to deal with the symptoms of illnesses. That doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense, since alcohol isn’t an effective treatment for viral or bacterial illnesses, but it can be common in some areas.
But the last reason is potentially the most concerning and the most dangerous. People who are addicted to alcohol, or who drink frequently, may drink alcohol with Sudafed simply because they normally drink and don’t see a reason not to when they are sick.
That can be more dangerous since the Sudafed may mask the feeling of alcohol, which can lead chronic drinkers to drink even more than usual, trying to get the same symptoms and side effects they’d normally get.
That kind of behavior can put people at significant risk of alcohol poisoning, or of getting more inebriated than they intended and potentially engaging in more risky behaviors than normal.
Alcohol may also make the more severe side effects of Sudafed, including hallucinations, more likely. That’s not because of a specific drug interaction, but because alcohol itself changes the way your brain functions and can make some kinds of hallucinations more likely.
Side Effects Of Sudafed And Alcohol
The side effects of Sudafed and alcohol aren’t really any different from the side effects of either drug taken on its own. It’s just that the side effects are likely to be more intense, and you might get more of them when you take both of these drugs at the same time.
Nausea, vomiting, headache, and difficulty sleeping can all be more severe when it comes to taking Sudafed and alcohol together.
If you have high blood pressure you should be cautious when using either Sudafed or alcohol, both drugs can raise your blood pressure. Combining them should also be done with extreme caution if you already have a history of high blood pressure or heart issues because you’re much more likely to have complications if you have a history of problems.