Prescription or OTCLower-cost generic availableClass: Respiratory

Sudafed Pe Alternatives

(phenylephrine)

Prescription or OTCLower-cost generic availableClass: Respiratory
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Compare Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine) to alternatives

These medications are comparable to Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine) or used for similar purposes.

Sudafed Pe
(phenylephrine)

Sudafed
(pseudoephedrine)

Flonase
(fluticasone)

Nasacort Aq
(triamcinolone)

Afrin
(oxymetazoline)

Clears your sinuses. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a good medication for relieving stuffy nose. It doesn't work as well as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), but it has fewer side effects.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.Relieves allergy symptoms. Flonase (Fluticasone) is a good first-choice medicine for treating a runny or stuffy nose caused by allergies, and it's cheaper than some alternatives.Relieves allergy symptoms. Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is the only medication in its class available over the counter for treating stuffy and runny nose due to allergies. You have to use it every day for it to work.Clears your sinuses. Afrin (Oxymetazoline) clears stuffy noses well, but don't use it for more than 3 days in a row or your congestion could get worse.
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Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
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4.18Phenylephrine
Reviews for Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
44%
of people (All ages) say Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine) is worth it
24%
say it works well
10%
say it's a big hassle
164 reviews
Have you used Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
82%
+38% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
45%
+21% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
6%
+4% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
1740 reviews
Have you used Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Flonase (fluticasone)
72%
+28% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
43%
+19% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
7%
+3% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
890 reviews
Have you used Flonase (fluticasone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Nasacort Aq (triamcinolone)
67%
+23% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
39%
+15% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
10%
Same vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
328 reviews
Have you used Nasacort Aq (triamcinolone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Afrin (oxymetazoline)
71%
+27% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
47%
+23% better vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
12%
-2% worse vs. Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)
599 reviews
Have you used Afrin (oxymetazoline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin

We haven’t found good data for Phenylephrine side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Phenylephrine »

We haven’t found good data for Sudafed side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Sudafed »
  • Asthma symptoms 4%
  • Nosebleed 1%
  • Nausea/vomiting 3%
  • Cough 1%
  • Blood in mucus 2%
  • Bronchitis 2%
  • Abdominal pain 2%
More Flonase side effects »
  • Sore throat 1%
  • Nosebleed 3%
  • Flu syndrome 2%
  • Bronchitis 2%
  • Indigestion 2%
  • Tooth disorder 2%
  • Headache 2%
  • Throat pain 2%
  • Common cold 1%
More Nasacort AQ side effects »

We haven’t found good data for Afrin side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Afrin »
How it works
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.Flonase (Fluticasone) is a nasal steroid. It works directly in your nose to reduce swelling and inflammation caused by allergies.Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is a nasal steroid. It works directly in your nose to help reduce swelling and inflammation from allergies.Afrin (Oxymetazoline) is a nasal decongestant. It reduces swelling in your nose to make breathing easier.
Type of medication
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
Prescription or OTC
Prescription or OTC
Prescription or OTC
Prescription or OTC
Prescription or OTC
Available as
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Liquid
  • Nasal spray
  • Nasal spray
  • Nasal spray
Used for
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
Risk factors for serious side effects
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking MAO inhibitors
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine) risks & warnings »
  • History of high blood pressure
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 years or older
  • History of seizures
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) risks & warnings »
  • Switching from oral or injectable steroids to inhaled, especially if used long term
  • Using other inhaled steroids with Flonase (Fluticasone)
  • Long-term use
  • Taking more than recommended dose
Detailed Flonase (fluticasone) risks & warnings »
  • Long-term use
  • Surgery or trauma to the nose or sinuses
  • Exposure to immunizable diseases (chickenpox and measles)
  • Exposure to tuberculosis
Detailed Nasacort Aq (triamcinolone) risks & warnings »
  • Using Afrin (Oxymetazoline) for more than 3 days
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Afrin (oxymetazoline) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

Pain
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
No pain related info.No pain related info.
  • Long-term use of Flonase (Fluticasone) can increase your chances of getting thrush in the nose and throat. Your doctor will check your nose and throat if you have to be on this medication for a long time. Also, tell your doctor if you notice pain in the nose and throat with redness and white patches.
No pain related info.No pain related info.
Sleep
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
No sleep related info.
  • It can affect the quality of your sleep, so you can't take it too close to going to bed.
No sleep related info.No sleep related info.No sleep related info.
Upsides and benefits
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
  • Works to clear nasal congestion and helps you breathe better.
  • Helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches.
  • Has fewer side effects than other decongestants like pseudoephedrine.
  • It doesn't raise your blood pressure and heart rate as much, or cause as much trouble falling asleep.
  • Doesn't give you rebound congestion (worse symptoms when you stop taking it) like nasal spray decongestants do.
  • 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.
  • First-choice medication for treating runny and stuffy noses caused by allergies. It works by reducing inflammation in the nose.
  • Because it's used directly where the inflammation is happening, it has fewer side effects than oral steroids do and has a lower chance of causing withdrawal symptoms once the medication is stopped.
  • Can be used as needed to help control symptoms in people age 13 years or older.
  • Available as a generic medication.
  • Available over the counter without a prescription.
  • First-choice medication for treating runny and stuffy noses caused by allergies. It works by reducing inflammation in the nose.
  • Because it's used directly where the inflammation is happening, it has fewer side effects than oral steroids do and has a lower chance of causing withdrawal symptoms once the medication is stopped.
  • It works right away and each dose provides relief for up to 12 hours.
  • Can use for nasal congestion caused by colds and allergies.
  • It only affects your nose, so there aren't too many other side effects.
  • Available as a nasal spray and a nasal mist.
Downsides and risks
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
  • Phenylephrine doesn't last as long as other decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
  • You shouldn't use it if you have high blood pressure.
  • Can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
  • Not as effective after using it for 4 days in a row.
  • 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.
  • Flonase (Fluticasone) doesn't have a counter on it, so it can be hard to remember how many sprays are left (each bottle has 120 sprays).
  • Needs to be primed (pressed/pumped until a fine spray appears) up to six times prior to using it for the first time, or if you haven't used it in 2 weeks.
  • Since the medicine in Flonase (Fluticasone) is a steroid, it can slow down your healing process if you've hurt your nose or had nose surgery.
  • Can't be used on as-needed basis. Must be taken every day.
  • Doesn't have a counter on it, so it can be hard to remember how many sprays are left.
  • Since the medicine in Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is a steroid, it can slow down your healing process if you've hurt your nose or had nose surgery.
  • Needs to be primed before use and re-primed if not used for more than 2 weeks.
  • Afrin (Oxymetazoline), like all other sprays used for stuffy noses, can make your congestion worse if you use it for more than 3 or 4 days in a row (called rebound-congestion).
  • Can cause temporary stinging, burning, or dryness in your nose.
  • Can't be used for kids younger than 6 years old.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
PhenylephrineSudafedFlonaseNasacort AQAfrin
  • Starts working in 30 minutes.
  • Phenylephrine can make you restless, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
  • It's in other cold and flu combination medicines. Read labels closely so you don't accidentally double up and take too much of it in a day.
  • Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take.
  • Let your doctor know if your symptoms don't improve in a few days.
  • Starts working in 30 minutes.
  • You need to show an ID to buy Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) in the drugstore because it contains pseudoephedrine.
  • Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take. Don't take more than recommended on the package.
  • Don't take Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) too close to bedtime since it can keep you awake.
  • Can cause an irregular or fast heartbeat, and can raise your blood pressure.
  • Talk to your doctor if your symptoms don't get better in 1 week.
  • It can take several days for Flonase (Fluticasone) to start working fully.
  • Don't take more of it than was prescribed for you.
  • Blow your nose before using Flonase (Fluticasone).
  • Can cause thrush (a fungal infection) inside the nose and throat.
  • Can also cause a headache, sore throat, or nosebleeds.
  • Use Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) once a day, following age-specific recommendations on how many sprays to use. Don't take more than prescribed.
  • Blow your nose before using.
  • Can cause thrush (a fungal infection) inside the nose and throat.
  • Can also cause nosebleeds, a sore throat, and headaches.
  • Needs to be used regularly during allergy season for it to work. It can take 1 to 2 weeks for the medicine to start working fully.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist on how to use the nasal spray the right way.
  • Shake well before using it. Before the first use, prime the bottle by spraying it until you see a fine mist.
  • Use 2 to 3 sprays in each nostril every 10 to 12 hours. Don't use Afrin (Oxymetazoline) more than two times a day.
  • Keep your head upright and don't tilt it back when spraying Afrin (Oxymetazoline) into your nose.
  • Breathe in with quick sniffs while spraying and wait a few minutes before blowing your nose.
  • Don't use Afrin (Oxymetazoline) for more than 3 days in a row since it can worsen your congestion after a few days of use.
Learn more
More about PhenylephrineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about SudafedSide effectsReviews & ratingsFDA package insert
Have you used Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about FlonaseSide effectsReviews & ratingsFDA package insert
Have you used Flonase (fluticasone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about Nasacort AQSide effectsReviews & ratingsFDA package insert
Have you used Nasacort Aq (triamcinolone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about AfrinSide effectsReviews & ratingsFDA package insert
Have you used Afrin (oxymetazoline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it