The FDA Says Using This OTC Medication Too Much Can Damage Your Heart

The popular nasal decongestant spray can be seriously dangerous if misused.

Your medicine cabinet can help you get through headaches, heartburn, and hay fever with drugs you don't even need a prescription for. But even the most helpful over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you rely on can be potentially dangerous if you use them the wrong way. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that a popular nasal decongestant could cause some serious damage to your heart if it's misused. Read on to see if you have this drug in your home, and for more important medication updates, check out The FDA Released a New Warning About This OTC Pain Reliever.

The FDA warns propylhexedrine can cause serious heart issues if misused.

Seasonal virus infection.
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According to a warning from the FDA released on March 25, the nasal decongestant propylhexedrine can cause major heart and mental health problems in anyone who misuses or abuses the drug. The agency warns that side effects include fast or abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure, and paranoia, potentially leading to hospitalization, permanent disability, or potentially death in serious cases.

Meanwhile, Steven Pray, PhD, previously explained in a U.S. Pharmacy publication that a majority of topical nasal decongestants, such as oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, and naphazoline, carry a caution "against use by patients with heart disease and high blood pressure." The warning stems from a chemical in the nasal sprays that could potentially be absorbed, leading to dangerous blood pressure levels.

The OTC inhaled is often sold under the brand name Benzedrex.

Woman Using Nasal Spray For Her Cold
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Propylhexedrine, which is often sold as an OTC nasal inhaler under the brand name Benzedrex, is normally used to relieve nasal congestion symptoms from hay fever, cold, and other common allergies. The FDA says the drug is perfectly safe when the proper dosage is taken, which is two sprays in each nostril no more than every two hours and not for more than three consecutive days.

And for other important safety updates, check out If You're Taking This Medication, the FDA Has a New Warning for You.

Reported cases of misuse and abuse of propylhexedrine are going up.

In the Hospital Sick Male Patient Sleeps on the Bed. Heart Rate Monitor Equipment is on His Finger.
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The FDA warns that reports of people misusing and abusing propylhexedrine have increased dramatically in recent years. The agency reviewed 415 cases of abuse and 45 cases of misuse between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2019.

The agency says the most commonly reported side effects in these cases included "rapid heart rate, agitation, high blood pressure, chest pain, tremor, hallucinations, delusions, confusion, nausea, and vomiting." Among the 460 cases, 21 had "severe outcomes" with potentially life-threatening side effects, including 13 resulting in intensive care admissions.

The FDA warns you should only use propylhexedrine as intended.

suffering from bad pain in his chest heart attack at home - senior heart disease
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The FDA warns the public to carefully follow the usage and dosage instructions found on the bottle's Drug Facts label and never use propylhexedrine in any way other than inhalation. Since there is no specific reversal agent available to treat cases of acute intoxication, you should call 911 or poison control at 1-800-222-1222 if you experience any side effects, which include severe anxiety or agitation, confusion, hallucinations, or paranoia, rapid heartbeat, abnormal heart rhythm, and tightness or pain in your chest.

And for more on using medicine the right way, check out If You Take This Common Medication to Sleep, Stop Now, New Study Says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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