Decongestants, Nasal

Decongestant nasal sprays are non-prescription nasal sprays that may be used to provide relief from the nasal congestion caused by colds and allergies.

Common ingredients include:

  • Oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Afrin® and Vicks Sinex®)
  • Phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo Synephrine® and Dristan®)

When sprayed into the nose, these medications constrict the blood vessels in the lining of the nose. This shrinkage of the mucosa membrane causes the nasal passages to open up.

These nasal sprays have the advantage of providing rapid symptom relief. However, prolonged use of these medications can lead to side effects.

Excessive use of decongestant nasal sprays can damage the nasal lining and result in increased inflammation. The nasal congestion worsens when the medication is stopped so that user starts to rely on regular and increasing use. This effect is known as rhinitis medicamentosa or the "rebound effect".

For this reason, it is generally recommended that these medications be used for no more than 3 days.

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Last updated: 5/13/2022