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?

Side effects of nasal decongestants include:

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.

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Summary

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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Medically Reviewed on 6/27/2019
References
Pray, W., et al. "Safe Use of Nasal Decongestants." Medscape.
<https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/484014>
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