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What is the difference between a cold remedy that offers 'congestion relief' and one that is a 'decongestant'?
I have just bought some Sudafed capsules, thinking they were the same as the sudafed tablets that I have bought in the past, but they've actually got different ingredients (one Phenylephrine, the other is Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride). What is the different and what effects should each have on my congestion?
asked in medicine, decongestant

vultan answers:

Hmm, it's kind of complicated. I don;t think there's any real difference between the two descriptions - 'congestion relief' and 'decongestant' are pretty much interechangeable.

However, the two active ingredients are quite differnet:


Pseudoephedrine is the more potent of the two but has apparently been used as an illicit stimulant in sports (having taken sudafed I can;t imagine how many you'd have to pop to get an effect).

Phenylephrine is les effective but is becoming more common because of the potential abuse aspect of the other. Wikipedia says "there are recent claims that oral phenylephrine may be no more effective as a decongestant than a placebo".

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