Are Nasal Decongestants Safe?
Are Nasal Decogestants Safe?
Being stuffed up by a cold or allergies is not a fun experience to say the least. Not only are you fielding the “do you have a cold? You sound stuffed!” questions from concerned friends and family, but congestion can also affect your sense of smell and make it tough to breathe well at night. That’s why you’re looking for ways to fix congestion fast. Here’s what you need to know.
What Causes Congestion?
There are several causes of congestion, notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
- Cold and Flu
- Sinus infection
- OTC nasal sprays
- Nasal polyps
- Vasomotor rhinitis (also referred to as nonallergic rhinitis, stuffiness occurs as a result of factors such as airborne pollutants, odors, weather, and food and beverages.)
What Are Nasal Decongestants?
Nasal decongestants are a type of medication that’s designed to relieve congestion. The active ingredient is often phenylephrine, which is found in Cabinet Nasal Decongestant. This ingredient reduces swelling of blood vessels in the sinuses and also helps diminish discomfort caused by nasal pressure.
Nasal Decongestant Safety
Overall, nasal decongestants are safe. However, there are a few precautions you should take before starting this medication:
Even though nasal decongestants are available over-the-counter, they can still interact with certain types of prescription medications, including bromocriptine (which treats specific menstrual problems in women and Parkinson’s disease), MAOIs, psychiatric medications, ergot-type medications that are used for migraines, and blood pressure medication, notes Cleveland Clinic. Talk to your doctor to make sure that what you’re using—Rx, OTC, and supplements—are all compatible.
Before taking a nasal decongestant, talk to your doctor if you have the following health issues:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disease
- Trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland
The first thing you should do when taking a new medication is read the label and understand the directions. In this case, it’s advised to take one tablet of Nasal Decongestant every four hours, with a limit of six tablets in a 24-hour period. Before giving to a child under age 12, talk to their pediatrician.
Side effects are possible with any medication. If you experience nervousness, dizziness, or sleeplessness, you should stop taking the decongestant and talk to your doctor.
Other Treatments for Nasal Congestion
Along with an OTC like Nasal Decongestion, there are things you can do at home to clear your sinuses and make yourself more comfortable. Here are four things you can try:
- Sit with a warm washcloth over your face: Consider this a mini spa break for your sinuses. Add a nice glass—with a straw—of cucumber water. (More on hydrating below.)
- Moisten the air: The steam from hot water in a shower can help moisten and open up your sinuses. For safety, it’s recommended that you sit in the bathroom while the water runs rather than doing this while physically in a hot shower, where the steam can be too hot to inhale. Another idea: Run a humidifier. Just make sure you clean it according to the manufacturer’s directions, as some portable units are prone to growing mold, which can exacerbate allergies.
- Sip often: Your goal is to drink up. Well, make it a double water. Hydration loosens up mucous so you can breathe easier, per Mayo Clinic. What’s more, warm liquids may also help beat congestion, so now’s the time to warm up a mug of bone broth. (Bonus: An extra high-protein snack.)
- Wash your sinuses: Saline sprays and drops can help wash out mucous secretions and make nasal passages moister (so you feel better, too). A nasal wash (like a neti pot) is another option, but always use distilled or filtered water (not tap water).
What About Nasal Decongestant Sprays?
Nasal decongestant sprays are a type of medication that you can purchase OTC or are available by prescription and are used in the treatment of congestion caused by allergies or colds. These contain a different active ingredient called oxymetazoline, which you spray directly into the nose. This medication is recommended to use for only three days; using it longer can cause rebound congestion.