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What are nasal decongestants, and what are they used for?
Nasal decongestants are a type of medication used to treat nasal congestion. Nasal decongestants are applied to nasal passages to reduce congestion and discomfort due to allergies and the common cold. Decongestants cause blood vessels in the nasal passages to shrink (vasoconstrict). Vasoconstriction reduces nasal congestion by preventing fluid from draining from blood vessels into the tissues lining the nasal passages.
What are examples of nasal decongestants?
Short-acting nasal decongestants
- ephedrine (Not available in the U.S.)
- levmetamfetamine or L-desoxyephedrine (Vicks Vapo Inhaler)
- naphazoline (Privine)
- phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine, Little Noses Decongestant Nose Drops, 4-Way Fast Acting)
- propylhexedrine (Benzedrex Inhaler)
Long-acting decongestants (8 to 12 hours)
- xylometazoline (Triaminic Decongestant Spray Nasal & Sinus Congestion)
- oxymetazoline (Afrin, Vicks Sinex, Zicam Nasal Gel)
What are the side effects of nasal decongestants?
What are the formulations available for nasal decongestants?
Nasal decongestants are available as sprays, drops, and inhalers.
What drugs interact with nasal decongestants?
Nasal decongestants decrease levels of intranasal nicotine. They prolong the time to reach peak concentrations and decrease peak concentrations of nicotine intranasal.
Are nasal decongestants safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding?
Intranasal decongestants may be absorbed into the blood stream. They have not been adequately evaluated in pregnant or breastfeeding women. They should only be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Nasal decongestants are used to treat nasal congestion and discomfort from allergies and colds. There are two types of nasal decongestants; 1) short acting, for example, levmetamfetamine or L-desoxyephedrine (Vicks Vapo Inhaler) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine, Little Noses Decongestant Nose Drops, 4-Way Fast Acting); and 2) long acting, for example xylometazoline (Triaminic Decongestant Spray Nasal & Sinus Congestion) and oxymetazoline (Afrin, Vicks Sinex, Zicam Nasal Gel). Side effects, drug interactions, storage, dosing, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
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Related Disease Conditions
Tonsil stones are small clusters of calcifications that form when food, dead cells, mucus, and bacteria get stuck in the nooks and crannies of the tonsils. Tonsil stones are hard, appear as white or yellowish formations on the tonsils, and usually smell bad due to bacteria. If symptoms occur, they may include persistent bad breath, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, and cough.
The word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. The most common of these are scaly patches of skin and red, itchy bumps or patches all over the place.
What Is Mucus?
Mucus is a normal substance produced by lining tissues in the body. Excess mucus or mucus that is yellow, green, brown, or bloody may indicate a problem. Mucus production may increase when allergies, a cold, flu, cough, or sore throat are present. Antihistamines and cold and flu medications may help alleviate excess mucus. A neti pot may be used to decrease nasal congestion and clear mucus.
Hives, also called urticaria, is a raised, itchy area of skin. Most often the cause of hives is unknown. Sometimes it is a sign of an allergic reaction to food or medications, but the cause of the allergy (the allergen) is unknown. Dermatographism and swelling (angioedema) may accompany hives. Treatment to get rid of hives and alleviate symptoms typically includes antihistamines.
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
Nosebleeds are common in dry climates during winter months, and in hot dry climates with low humidity. People taking blood clotting medications, aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medications may be more prone to nosebleeds. Other factors that contribute to nosebleed are trauma (including nose picking, especially in children), rhinitis (both allergic and nonallergic), and high blood pressure. First-aid treatments for a nosebleed generally do not need medical care. Frequent or chronic nosebleeds may require medical treatment such as over-the-counter (OTC) medication, and prevention of nose picking.
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
The Eustachian tube is a membrane-lined tube that connects the middle ear space to the back of the nose. Symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction or blockage include popping and/or clicking in the ear, and ear fullness and/or pain. Causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction or blockage include allergies, sinus infections, ear infections, and the common cold. Treatment includes home remedies to relieve pain and several maneuvers (swallowing, chewing gum, yawning, etc.), which can be done to improve Eustachian tube function. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
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Can You Take Tylenol Cold and Flu While Breastfeeding?
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How Do You Get Rid of a Cold Overnight?
Cold symptoms are part of your body’s healing processes. Most of the time, it does not require any help. However, you can get rid of a cold faster, even overnight, by resting, drinking hot fluids, blowing your nose, gargling with salt water, taking a hot shower, using a humidifier and taking OTC pain relievers and decongestants.
How Long Is a Cold or Flu Contagious?
Viruses cause the common cold and the flu. Early symptoms and signs for a cold and the flu are similar, however, flu symptoms are typically more severe than cold symptoms. Cold and flu viruses are transmitted typically via coughing or sneezing.
Lung Anatomy Diagram
The lungs are primarily responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air we breathe and the blood. Eliminating carbon dioxide from the blood is important, because as it builds up in the blood, headaches, drowsiness, coma, and eventually death may occur. The air we breathe in (inhalation) is warmed, humidified, and cleaned by the nose and the lungs.
Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an irritation of the nose caused by pollen and is associated with the following allergic symptoms: nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, eye and nose itching, and tearing eyes. Avoidance of known allergens is the recommended treatment, but if this is not possible, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays may help alleviate symptoms.
Cold, Flu, Allergy Treatments
Before treating a cold, the flu, or allergies with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, it's important to know what's causing the symptoms, which symptoms one wishes to relieve, and the active ingredients in the OTC product. Taking products that only contain the medications needed for relieving your symptoms prevents ingestion of unnecessary medications and reduces the chances of side effects.
How Do You Decongest a Baby?
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Fever and Headache
Illnesses, diseases, conditions, and infections like cancer, RA, bacterial and fungal infections, encephalitis, meningitis, flu, and colds can cause a headache and fever. Associated symptoms and signs include rash, nausea and vomiting, cough, sweating, neck stiffness, seizure, decreased appetite, and joint pain and swelling. Treatment depends upon the cause but may include antibiotics, antifungal or antiviral drugs, pain-control drugs, decongestants, and cough suppressants.
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COVID-19 vs. Flu vs. Cold
When you're feeling sick, it can be difficult to distinguish the symptoms of a COVID-19 infection from the symptoms of the common cold or the flu (influenza). While fever is common with the flu and COVID-19, sneezing is typically only associated with colds. Though sore throats are typical with colds, they are uncommon with COVID-19 infections and the flu.
Allergy Treatment Begins at Home
Avoiding allergy triggers at home is one of the best ways to prevent allergy symptoms. Controlling temperature, humidity, and ventilation are a few ways to allergy-proof the home. Cleaning, vacuuming, and using HEPA air filters also helps control allergies.
What Is Allergic Cascade?
The allergic cascade refers to allergic reactions that happen in the body in response to allergens. A variety of immune cells and chemical messengers participate in the allergic cascade. Symptoms of the allergic cascade range from mild swelling and itching to full-blown anaphylactic shock. Allergen avoidance and medications are used to prevent or treat allergies.
Cold vs. Flu
Though the common cold and flu share many signs and symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. Signs and symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and cough. Treatment options for the cold and flu are similar and focus on reducing symptoms. Doctors may prescribe antivirals/neuraminidase inhibitors for the flu.
What Causes Allergy Flare-ups?
During certain seasons, allergies can make you miserable. Learn what causes allergy flare-ups during spring and summer.
COVID-19 vs. Allergies
Though there is some overlap in allergy and COVID-19 signs and symptoms there are also significant differences. Symptoms that they have in common include headache, fatigue, tiredness, shortness of breath, wheezing, and sore throat. Fever does not occur with allergies but is one of the defining symptoms of COVID-19 infections.
Why Won’t My Allergy Symptoms Go Away?
Allergies happen when your body's immune system reacts to certain substances as though they are harmful. Allergy symptoms may not go away unless you avoid your triggers, stick to your medications, find the right combination of medications, and consider surgery.
What Causes Nose Allergies?
Nose allergies can be caused by irritants such as pollen, animal dander, and household dust. Learn about symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
How Is COVID-19 Different From Allergies?
COVID-19 symptoms are often similar to symptoms of seasonal allergies, so it is important to know how to tell the difference. Learn how to distinguish between the two.
Treatment & Diagnosis
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