Home Pharmacy (cont.)
Head and Sinus Congestion
- Oral decongestants come in either pill or liquid form and act by shrinking
engorged blood vessels in the nasal and sinus passages. It is important to read
the ingredient list since many preparations contain multiple medications. These
medications often contain an active ingredient
pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) which
is an adrenaline like drug. It should not be taken by individuals who have high
blood pressure or who have palpitations or rapid heartbeat. These over the
counter medications have warning labels that discuss their side effects.
- Nasal spray decongestants act similarly to oral decongestants but have the
advantage of acting only in the area applied, usually without the stimulant side
effects. The most common active ingredient in nasal sprays is oxymetazoline (for
example, oxymetazoline [Afrin], Dristan Nasal Spray,
[Neo-Synephrine]). Nasal sprays can cause a "rebound" effect where nasal
symptoms can return if they are used for more than 3 days and then discontinued.
It is important to read and follow the package label instructions. People with
heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure),
diabetes, or urinary
retention due to an enlarged prostate should not use these medications.
- Humidified air and salt water nasal sprays are effective alternatives to
OTC medicated sprays and oral decongestants.
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