To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Decongestants


Table of Contents


Decongestants

Decongestants may help shrink swollen tissues in the nose, sinuses, throat, and the space behind the eardrum (middle ear). This may relieve pressure and pain.

Decongestants can be taken by mouth (oral) or used as nose drops or sprays. Oral decongestants are probably more effective and provide longer relief, but they cause more side effects. There are only two nonprescription decongestants that you can take as a pill: pseudoephedrine (such as Sudafed) and phenylephrine (such as Sudafed PE). In some states, any medicine that contains pseudoephedrine is kept behind the pharmacist's counter so you will need to ask the pharmacist for it. In other states, you have to have a prescription from your doctor to buy medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

Sprays and drops provide rapid but temporary relief. Neo-Synephrine is an effective nasal spray. Sprays and drops are less likely to interact with other medicines, which may be a problem with oral decongestants.

Decongestant precautions

For more information about medicine safety, see Over-the-Counter Medicine Precautions and Quick Tips: Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Children.


Credits for Decongestants

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised December 21, 2011

Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.