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Sinus Infection (cont.)

What are the side effects of nasal and oral decongestants?

Both nasal and oral decongestants have side effects, including

  • increased heart rate,
  • increased blood pressure,
  • insomnia,
  • nervousness,
  • anxiety,
  • tremor,
  • dry mouth,
  • blurry vision, and
  • headache.

They also may also cause an inability to urinate.

Consult a health-care professional before using decongestants of you have a history of

  • cardiac disease,
  • high blood pressure,
  • anxiety, or
  • urinary problems (especially prostate disorders).

Combining decongestants with OTC or prescribed medications with similar side effects may cause dangerous complications.

What medications promote drainage?

Home remedies that open and hydrate the sinuses may promote drainage. See Home Remedies section for information on increasing daily fluid intake, inhaling steam, taking expectorants and pain relievers, and nasal saline irrigation.

If environmental allergies cause sinusitis, an antihistamine may help reduce swelling of the mucous membranes. Allergens stimulate white blood cells in the blood and tissues to release histamine into the circulation. This causes fluid to leak from blood vessels into the tissues of the nasal passageways, leading to nasal congestion.

  • Some of the older sedating OTC antihistamines (diphenhydramine [Benadryl]) are no longer recommended because they tend to dry out and thicken the mucus, making drainage more difficult.
  • Non-sedating antihistamines such as fexofenadine (Allegra), cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), or desloratadine (Clarinex) do not seem to dry out the mucosa. If nasal congestion is severe, a decongestant can be added (for example, Allegra-D or Claritin-D).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/16/2015

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Sinusitis, Acute »

Sinusitis is characterized by inflammation of the lining of the paranasal sinuses.

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