Alcohol’s effects on the body and immune system can effectively negate Sudafed, which can make nasal symptoms last longer.

Article at a Glance:

Sudafed and alcohol do not officially have any drug interactions.

Sudafed can cause nasal stuffiness in some people.

Alcohol can impair the immune system, making it harder for your body to overcome the illness Sudafed is helping with.

Can You Take Sudafed With Alcohol?

If you have a cold or sinus problems, you may rely on Sudafed to help relieve your nasal symptoms. However, you may also wonder if it is safe to drink alcohol while taking the medication. Although there are no drug interactions between Sudafed and alcohol, taking them together can still lead to certain health consequences.

What Is Sudafed?

Sudafed is a decongestant that is sometimes sold under the generic name pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine can be used to help with a variety of common symptoms related to colds, the flu or allergies. As a decongestant, it narrows blood vessels to help alleviate swelling and congestion.

Generic NamePseudoephedrine
Brand NamesSudafed, SudoGest, Zephrex-D
Approved UsesNasal congestion
Controlled substance status / FDA warningsNot a controlled substance, but the federal government limits sales to behind the pharmacy counter
Side effectsFast heartbeat, high blood pressure, sweating, feeling wide awake, tremor, blurry vision
DosageSudafed Immediate release: 60 mg every four to six hours
Sudafed 12 Hour: 120 mg every 12 hours
Sudafed 24 Hour: 240 mg every 24 hours
Potential for misuseUsed as an ingredient in methamphetamine production

Sudafed and Alcohol Drug Interaction

No drug interactions exist between Sudafed and alcohol. Although each substance has its own individual side effects, taking both together should not impact or worsen the side effects of either substance.

What Are the Risks of Drinking on Sudafed?

Although Sudafed and alcohol do not have drug interactions, taking them together can be harmful for two key reasons:

  • Drinking can worsen nasal symptoms: Drinking can cause a condition called alcohol-linked nasal symptoms, or ANS. Women are more likely to experience this than men, and people with underlying breathing issues like asthma are also at higher risk. ANS is often linked to wine intake. The condition occurs because drinking can swell the blood vessels in your nose, making it harder to breathe. Alcohol can also be dehydrating, leading to thickened mucus and more nasal congestion. People with alcohol intolerance may also experience a stuffy nose after drinking.
  • Drinking can harm your immune system: If you’re taking Sudafed because you’re sick, drinking can make it harder for your body to fight the infection. Drinking particularly impacts the immune system in the respiratory tract, so it’s harder for Sudafed to do its job of relieving your breathing.

Sudafed 12 Hour and Alcohol 

Sudafed 12 Hour can last for about 12 hours in your body before another dose is needed. This means the effects of mixing it with alcohol, such as nasal congestion, may also last a long time. 

Sudafed 24 Hour and Alcohol 

Sudafed 24 Hour lasts a full day in your body, meaning that any negative consequences of mixing it with alcohol may also last an extended period of time.

Nasal Decongestants and Alcohol

To avoid worsening your stuffy nose and harming your immune system, it’s best to avoid combining nasal decongestants like Sudafed with alcohol.

It can be hard to quit drinking, especially if you struggle with an alcohol use disorder. Fortunately, help is available at The Recovery Village. Our caring team of multidisciplinary experts provides detox, rehab and aftercare options for those who are having a difficult time ending alcohol use. If you’re ready to take the next step in your recovery journey, contact ustoday to learn more about treatment programs that can work well for your needs.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Jessica Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more
Sources “Drug Interaction Report: Pseudoephedrine and Ethanol.” Accessed August 29, 2021. “Pseudoephedrine.” August 6, 2020. Accessed August 29, 2021.

Food and Drug Administration. “Legal Requirements for the Sale and Purc[…] Phenylpropanolamine.” November 24, 2017. Accessed August 29, 2021.

Fuchs, Flávio D. “Vascular Effects of Alcoholic Beverages.” Hypertension, April 15, 2005. Accessed August 29, 2021.

Nihlen, Ulf; Greiff, Lennart J.; Nyberg, Per; et al. “Alcohol-induced upper airway symptoms: p[…]nce and co-morbidity.” Respiratory Medicine, June 2005. Accessed August 29, 2021.

Sarkar, Dipak; Jung, M. Katherine; Wang, H. Joe; et al. “Alcohol and the Immune System.” Alcohol Research Current Reviews, 2015. Accessed August 29, 2021.

Cleveland Clinic. “Alcohol Intolerance.” August 24, 2020. Accessed September 1, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.