- 10 Common Allergy Triggers Slideshow Pictures
- Take the Quiz on Allergies
- Nasal Allergy Relief Products Slideshow
- What are nasal decongestants? What are the uses of nasal decongestants?
- What are examples of nasal decongestants?
- What are the side effects of nasal decongestants?
- What are the formulations available for nasal decongestants?
- What drugs interact with nasal decongestants?
- Are nasal decongestants safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding?
What are nasal decongestants? What are the uses of nasal decongestants?
Nasal decongestants are 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
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
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.
Hives (Urticaria & Angioedema)
Hives, also called urticaria, is a raised, itchy area of skin that is usually a sign of an allergic reaction. The allergy may be to food or medications, but usually the cause of the allergy (the allergen) is unknown.
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.
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.
Lung Anatomy (Structure and Function)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Indoor allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Common sources of indoor allergens include dust mites, cockroaches, molds, pets, and plants. Avoiding indoor allergens is one way to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms.
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.
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.
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.
What Causes Chronic Sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis occurs when the tissue lining the facial sinuses becomes inflamed for at least three months. Chronic sinusitis usually involves nasal airway swelling (rhinitis). The causes of chronic sinusitis include nasal polyps, deviated nasal septum, medical conditions, respiratory tract infections, and allergies.
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