Compare Sudafed vs. Afrin

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)

Prescription or OTC

Afrin (oxymetazoline)

Prescription or OTC
Clears your sinuses.

Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) relieves stuffy nose, but it could keep you up at night. Don't forget your photo ID or you won't be able to buy it in the drugstore.

3.9/ 5 average rating with 1740 reviewsforSudafed
Clears your sinuses.

Afrin (oxymetazoline) clears stuffy noses, but can worsen your congestion if it is used more frequently than 3 days in a row.

3.7/ 5 average rating with 599 reviewsforAfrin
Upsides
  • One of the best over-the-counter options to clear stuffy nose and help you breathe better.
  • Clears nasal congestion better than other decongestants like phenylephrine.
  • Can be helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches and pressure in your ears.
  • Available in regular and extended release forms.
  • It works right away and each dose lasts up to 12 hours.
  • The effect is limited to your nasal passageways so it may be safer than other decongestants you take orally.
  • Available as a nasal spray and a nasal mist.
  • Can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription.
Downsides
  • Pseudoephedrine (a decongestant) can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
  • It can affect the quality of your sleep, so you can't take it too close to going to bed.
  • Can raise blood pressure so check with your doctor before using it if you have high blood pressure or other heart conditions.
  • Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) isn't as effective after using it for more than 4 days straight.
  • Need to show a photo ID to buy it in the drugstore and there is a limit on how much you can buy each visit.
  • Sometimes Afrin (oxymetazoline) causes temporary stinging, burning, or dryness of the nose.
  • Talk to your doctor first before using it in children younger than 6 years old.
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Liquid
  • Nasal spray
No pricing information available
No pricing information available
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Reviews
1740 reviews so far
82%
saidit'sworth it
45%
saiditworked well
6%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)?

Leave a review
599 reviews so far
71%
saidit'sworth it
47%
saiditworked well
12%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Afrin (oxymetazoline)?

Leave a review
Side effects
The Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Afrin (oxymetazoline) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • High blood pressure
    • History of high blood pressure
  • Heart problems
    • History of heart problems
    • Age 65 years or older
  • Seizures
    • History of seizures
  • Harm to fetus
    • Women of childbearing age
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Rebound nasal congestion
    • Using Afrin (oxymetazoline) for more than 3 days
See more detailed risks and warnings