Best Decongestants to Treat Allergies

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What is the Most Effective Sinus Decongestant?

If congestion is your main allergy symptom, you should go for Phenylephrine. 

Within all the allergy medicines, Phenylephrine has the strongest effect as a nasal decongestant. That’s because it acts by narrowing blood vessels and shrinking tissues in the nasal passage, allowing the normal flow of air and mucus. 

When compared to other nasal decongestants it has the lowest incidence of side effects.

If your allergy reaction has other symptoms aside from congestion, you should consider taking either Cetirizine, Fexofenadine, or Diphenhydramine.


Cetirizine and Fexofenadine have similar efficacy and side effects. Cetirizine, however, provides faster relief -- it works within one hour after taking it while Fexofenadine works within two hours. Besides that, Cetirizine has proven to be more effective relieving symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Diphenhydramine, on the other hand, often causes side effects such as tiredness and drowsiness. It is powerful when it comes to addressing the symptoms, but we don’t recommend taking it during the day.

If you need more information about each medication, here it goes: 


Provides maximum strength, non-drowsy relief for sinus and nasal congestion.

How does it work? Phenylephrine is a nasal decongestant that narrows blood vessels and shrinks tissues in your nasal passage, allowing the normal flow of air and mucus. Phenylephrine has fewer side effects compared to pseudoephedrine.

What should I know about it? Phenylephrine may potentially elevate your blood pressure. So, consult a specialist if you have high blood pressure. Don't use if you are taking any monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI).

Compares to: Sudafed PE Congestion

Best for: Individuals whose main allergy symptoms are an itchy and stuffy nose.


Relieves allergy symptoms such as sinusitis, sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose or throat, and watery eyes.

How does it work? Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that works by reducing allergy symptoms to provide quick relief from allergic reactions. Diphenhydramine has a short half-life compared to other antihistamines, this means any possible side effects won't last long.

What should I know about it? Don't take before any activity that you need to be alert for (e.g. driving your car, operating machines, or that really important job interview). Don't take with alcohol.

Compares to: Benadryl

Best for: Individuals with allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose or throat, and watery eyes who won’t be participating in any activity that requires attention.


Provides a non-drowsy relief for the symptoms of seasonal allergies (hay fever), such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose or throat, hives, itchy eyes, in adults and children.

How does it work? Fexofenadine works by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body that triggers allergy symptoms. Its long half-life means you only have to take it once a day.

What should I know about it? Avoid taking them with juices of any kind: apple juice, orange juice, gin & juice. Don't take with antacids containing aluminum or magnesium (e.g. Maalox or Mylanta). If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, speak with our Care Team or pharmacist before use.

Compares to: Allegra 24 hour

Best for: Individuals with allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose or throat, and watery eyes who will be participating in an activity that requires attention, such as driving or taking an exam.


Provides relief of allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose or throat, itchy or watery eyes within one hour.

How does it work? Cetirizine works by blocking the action of histamine – a substance in the body that triggers allergic symptoms. Its inability to pass the blood-brain barrier causes less drowsiness than Diphenhydramine.

What should I know about it? Cetirizine rarely causes drowsiness. In addition to taking this tablet, nasal sprays and eye drops are great at helping with allergy symptoms.

Compares to: Zyrtec and Claritin (Loratadine)

Best for: Individuals who need fast relief for allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose or throat, and watery eyes. Some studies found that this is the most effective allergy medicine for allergic rhinitis.  

What’s in Cabinet’s Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief Kit?

The Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief Kit contains everything you need to fight allergy symptoms, from a runny nose to an itchy throat to a bumping headache.

What comes in the kit? 

1. Allergy Relief Pills (Cetirizine) - 100 tablets

2. Pain Reliever & Fever Reducer (Ibuprofen) - 100 tablets

3. Nasal Decongestant (Phenylephrine) - 50 tablets

4. Peppermint Lipbalm

Best for: This kit was created with the help of those that know this stuff best – pharmacists and physicians -- to prepare individuals and families to handle whatever comes your way in terms of allergies. If you want to have everything you need in hand when the next allergy crisis comes, this kit is for you.

Why Cabinet?

Curated by Experts

Physicians and pharmacists worked together to provide you with what you need. The best of what’s out there.

Rigorously Tested

All of our factories are FDA-audited ensuring world-class manufacturing processes and healthy sourcing. 

Fair Pricing 

We will always keep prices fair and honest, especially when you need us the most. Ask us more about our "pay-what-you-can" policy for those in need.

Delivered to Your Door

Avoid an unwanted trip to the pharmacy. Cabinet delivers directly. Perfect for sending to friends or family who are unwell and need your help. 

Is it safe to mix decongestants with other allergy medications?

In general, you can use an over-the-counter antihistamine (Cetirizine, Fexofenadine, and Diphenhydramine) with a decongestant (Phenylephrine). That’s if you have no conflicting medical conditions. You can also combine allergy pills with nasal sprays such as oxymetazoline.

However, it is not always safe to take two antihistamine medications in one day. For example, you don’t want to take a Cetirizine in the morning and a Fexofenadine in the evening.

If you want to be on the safe side, go with the Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief Kit. This kit was developed by professionals thinking about all your allergy needs as a whole. It comes with easy-to-follow instructions about dosage and meds combinations.  

What are the most common allergy symptoms?

Even though some allergic reactions have serious symptoms, the majority of allergies are mild and the symptoms look like common cold symptoms. 

These are the most recurrent allergy symptoms: 

1. Congestion 

2. Sneezing

3. Itchy nose

4. Watery and itchy eyes

If your symptoms persist for an extended period of time, or if you see more serious symptoms such as shortness of breath, you should look for medical advice.

Is it safe to take over-the-counter decongestants and allergy pills every day?

Antihistamines are generally safe to be taken daily for a short period of time. However, it is not recommended that you take them every day in the long-term. That’s because your body might develop a resistance to the effects of the medicine. To avoid that, you might want to alternate allergy and decongestant pills with a decongestant nasal spray like Nasacort, or with nose drops like Neo-Synephrine. 

Who shouldn’t take allergy medications?

Antihistamines are generally safe for most patients. Decongestants are not recommended for individuals with high blood pressure. That’s because they relieve nasal stuffiness by narrowing blood vessels and reducing swelling in the nose. This process can affect other blood vessels as well, which can increase blood pressure.

Older antihistamines, such as Diphenhydramine are not recommended for individuals who have prostate problems or glaucoma.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a healthcare professional before using allergy medications.

Besides that, most people can take OTC allergy medications with no problems. 

Need help?
Cabinet Care Center