The Danger of Nasal Decongestants

November 8, 2006

images.jpgIt’s the cold season and your family may have contracted the virus spreading around your house.  The problem then comes when with nasal congestion where the usual reflex is to grab an over the counter drug decongestant.

Certain decongestants have already been pulled out in the US market due to the bad side effect profile.  I thought of writing this post to warn the readers after my wife was taking decongestants 2 x a day in the past 2 days due to congested nose.  Interestingly, the drug contained the banned substance but still being sold in our country is really amazing!

Here’s an FDA Fact sheet on this banned substance called Phenylpropanolamine:

What is phenylpropanolamine?Phenylpropanolamine is an ingredient used in prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug products as a nasal decongestant to relieve stuffy nose or sinus congestion and in OTC weight control drug products to control appetite.

Why is phenylpropanolamine unsafe when this product has been in use for many years?

On May 11, 2000, FDA received results of a study conducted by scientists at Yale University School of Medicine that showed an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding of the brain) in people who were taking phenylpropanolamine. Phenylpropanolamine has been used for many years and a very small number of people taking the drug have had strokes. The Yale study helped show that the number of people having strokes when taking phenylpropanolamine was greater than the number of people having strokes who were not taking phenylpropanolamine. Although the risk of hemorrhagic stroke is very low, FDA has significant concerns because of the seriousness of a stroke and the inability to predict who is at risk. Because of continued reports to the FDA of hemorrhagic stroke associated with phenylpropanolamine and the results of the Yale study, we now feel that the risks of using phenylpropanolamine outweigh the benefits and recommend that consumers no longer use products containing phenylpropanolamine.

Are there any population groups at higher risk when using products containing phenylpropanolamine?

The Yale University study showed that the risk of hemorrhagic stroke was found mostly in women; however, men may also be at risk.

What types of products contain phenylpropanolamine?

Phenylpropanolamine is found in some prescription and OTC nasal decongestants and cough/cold products and OTC products for weight control.

So before you grab another tablet of a decongestant…be sure it does not contain the label”phenylpropanolamine”!

Be Safe…Always Read The Label !

19 Responses to “The Danger of Nasal Decongestants”

  1. maxim Says:

    Thanks for that valuable info doc. All of us adults in the house right now are taking decongestants, and the meds contain this substance.

  2. cherry de vera Says:

    doc, question lang, if it is really unsafe, bakit po me advisory ang BFAD na ok lang na i-take ang phenylpropanolamine basta right dosage? i tried searching for answers about this type of drug, natatakot na ako kasi puro masama ang feedback about it sa ibang bansa, but for the philippines, it is still acceptable… is BFAD still doing its work or they are more concerned with marketing/business?

  3. Doc Gerry Says:

    I really cant answer you about that Cherry… but that’s a good point. I am not sure why up to now it is still being marketed especially that other countries have already given advisories against them. So it boils down to indiviual choices… so the more informed we are the better we can question facts we think are not right.

  4. Anonimus Says:

    thanks for the info

  5. Met Says:

    nice blog. good photo.

  6. Odessa Nuez Says:

    the adverse effects noted are hemorrhagic strokes in adults. What about in children? Kids are more vulnerable in contracting the common cold. Is there a maximum dose given where no harmful effects are expected? Thanks

  7. Doc Gerry Says:

    No strokes in children BUT nasal decongestants have not been shown to be effective among children and are with side effects having stimulant effects. Gentler ways to treat the congestions should be advised instead like steam inhalation and plenty of fluids or nasal rinses especially for young children.

  8. Lee Says:

    Thanks for that information on nasal decongestants.I found it to be very helpful.check out this site for some info on natural remedies and nasal congestion causes.

  9. Bubi Says:

    No more s***. All posts of this qluiaty from now on

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