France warns against common nasal decongestant over stroke risk

Paris, Oct 24 (IANS): Health authorities of France have warned people not to use a common nasal decongestant as it can raise risk of stroke and heart attacks, media reports have said.

According to France's medicines agency, oral nasal decongestant medicines containing pseudoephedrine can raise the risk of stroke or heart attack.

The active ingredient is marketed under the brand names Sudafed, Galpseud, Boots Decongestat and Care Decongestant, Actifed Rhume, Doliruhm Paracetamol and Pseudoephedrine, and Humex Rhume among others.

"The message is clear. Do not use them. We do not risk getting a stroke for a stuffy nose," Christelle Ratignier-Carbonneil, the director of France's National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM), was quoted as saying to public broadcaster FranceInfo.

Many are available as oral tablets without a prescription or as a nasal spray with a prescription, the ANSM said.

Pseudoephedrine, a widely used decongestant, works by narrowing the blood vessels in your nose. However, it can also narrow blood vessels in other parts of the body, raising blood pressure and heart rate, Euronews reported.

While the common decongestant is considered safe for most people, the advisories underscore the importance of consulting with healthcare professionals before starting any new medication, particularly for individuals with underlying health conditions or those taking other medications.

The Belgian health authorities said that the benefits of the medications outweigh the minimal risk of serious side effects. They argued that the benefit-risk balance for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine remains positive, due to the extremely rare occurrence of serious side effects and the effective relief these medicines provide for cold symptoms, BNN Breaking reported.

Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently deemed another drug called phenylephrine ineffective. It is used to replace pseudoephedrine in some nasal decongestants. The decision was made unanimously by 16 members of the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee (NDAC) that oral phenylephrine, a component found in common medications like Sudafed, Mucinex, Vicks, Allegra, and Dayquil, does not effectively provide relief from nasal congestion.

The FDA further clarified that these cold medicines do not violate any safety concerns associated with the use of oral phenylephrine at the recommended dose. Instead of taking a nasal decongestant, the ANSM recommends that people humidify their noses with salt water spray, sleep with their heads elevated, drink enough fluids, and aerate their living spaces.



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