Phenylephrine belongs to the class of alpha 1-adrenergic receptor agonist and is mainly used as an nasal decongestant, increases blood pressure and as an agent to dilate the pupil. It is one of the active ingredients being used in various over the counter (OTC) products. It is either found stand-alone or in combination with other ingredients in various oral or topical products. Though, the drug provides relief from various symptoms, it does not treat the cause of the symptoms and speed recovery.
The medication has various medical uses which include:
Phenylephrine decongestant is available in various dosage forms such as oral medication, eye drops, and nasal sprays. It works by shrinking the blood vessels in the nasal passage, as a dilated blood vessel can cause congestion. Thus, the medication helps treat nasal congestion and sinus pressure caused by common cold, allergies, or flu. It also relieves congestion of the inner ears called the Eustachian tubes.
Phenylephrine eye drops have dilating effect on the pupil and facilitate visualization of the retina. However, its use is contraindicated in cases of narrow-angle glaucoma.
The drug is used as a vasopressor in patients suffering from hypotension. It works by constricting the blood vessels and elevates blood pressure.
Advice on how to use this medication
The medication comes in various dosage forms, such as oral tablets, liquid, injection or a dissolving strip that should be taken orally. The drug should be taken as directed by the physician; but is usually taken every 4 hours.
If the medication is administered through injection, safe administration is quite essential, especially when done at home. The medication should not be used, if the vial is spoiled or the medication is discolored or contain undissolved particles. Missed dose must be taken as soon as possible, but however, two doses should not be taken consequently in a single time.
Safe use of the medication
For safe use of the medication, the following information should be kept in mind. They include:
- The medicine should not be used on children aged less than 4 years. While using the medication for children aged between 4 to 11 years, the package instructions should be read and followed properly.
- Individuals who are allergic to phenylephrine, should avoid using it.
- People who have used the following drugs in the past 14 hours should avoid taking phenylephrine hcl – linezolid, procarbazine, furazolidone, tranylcypromine, selegiline, rasagiline, phenelzine, and isocarboxazid.
- Patients suffering from certain medical conditions such as, bipolar disorder, sleep problems, anxiety, urination problems, enlarged prostate, kidney disease, thyroid disorder, glaucoma, diabetes, circulation problems, high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorder, heart disease, and other mental illness should avoid taking this medication, because it may interact with medications used to treat such medical conditions.
- Contact physician immediately if condition worsens or symptoms do not improve after seven days of taking the medication.
- The drug is contraindicated to use during pregnancy and lactation.
- The drug may cause dizziness, so it is advisable not to drive, operate any dangerous machinery or do any dangerous operation until one knows how an individual actually react to the medication.
Like any other medication, phenylephrine hydrochloride also causes side effects on certain individuals. In most cases, these side effects resolve on its own when the body gets used to the medication or upon discontinuation. Most of the side effect caused by this drug is not serious, but when the condition becomes serious or bothersome, it should be notified to the health care provider immediately.
Most common side effects of the drug includes abdominal upset such as nausea and vomiting, headaches, excitability, and restlessness. Less serious side effect may include, but not limited to loss of appetite, skin rash or itching, insomnia, and redness, warmth or tingling under the skin.
Serious side effects such as anxiety or severe dizziness, uneven, fast or pounding heartbeat, dangerously high blood pressure, seizure, uneven heart rate, trouble breathing, chest pain, confusion, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, severe headache, easy bruising or bleeding, flu symptoms, body aches, chills, fever, or unusual weakness. When these serious side effects are seen, the drug should be discontinued immediately and medical help be sought.
Emergency medical help should be sought when signs of allergic reactions such as hives, swelling of the throat, tongue, lips, or face, and difficulty in breathing occur.