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Decongestants--To Get Over Cold, Flu, and Hayfever

Mark Schwarz

Decongestants are used to treat the symptoms of flu, hay fever, sinusitis, colds, rhinitis, and allergies. These conditions all share the same irritating symptoms of a stuffy or blocked nose. Decongestants try to provide short-term relief for these symptoms, by reducing the inflammation in the blood vessels in the nasal lining. Decongestants won’t treat other symptoms, such as itching or sneezing. But, whether they’ll come in the form of nasal spray, syrup, pills, or drops, decongestants will help you make it through the illness and still be able to function in your daily activities, instead of just lying in bed until you sleep it off.

We’ve composed this buyer’s guide to help you make the right decision when selecting a decongestant. It'll help you:

• Choose the right type of decongestant for your cold, flu, or allergy symptoms,

• See useful tips about that particular type of decongestant,

• Read reviews of different decongestant, and what customers are saying,

• Select the right brand of decongestant, and

• Compare prices and find the best deals.

Types Decongestants

Decongestants can be classified by their formulation, which determines how long they can be expected to provide relief.

Here is a list of typical active ingredients in decongestants:

  • Oxymetazoline

  • Ephedrine

  • Xylometazoline

  • Phenylephrine

  • Ipratropium bromide

  • Topical decongestants (sprays and drops)

These drugs are available for purchase over the counter in a certified pharmacy. These decongestants can also be bought together with a painkiller such as paracetamol.

Decongestants with phenylephrine or levmetamfetamine as the active ingredient work for a shorter duration, being effective on an average of three to four hours. On the other hand, decongestants with oxymetazoline and xylometazoline as the active ingredient are more intense, and they can work for up to eight to twelve hours. They also have little to no side effects.

What Reviewers Have to Say

  • The recommended method for using nasal spray: The best way to use a decongestant spray is first to gently blow your nose while standing upright and without tilting your head back. Shake the bottle, close one nostril, squeeze the spray bottle and inhale with your mouth closed. Finally, sniff in a few times to ensure the decongestant gets in properly.

  • Natural Remedies used as decongestants: If you wish to avoid the severe risks of chemical decongestants, there are more natural remedies as well:

    • Steam inhalation – Steam inhalation is effective to ease congestion, but it should not be relied upon as a lasting solution. This remedy is known to give a temporary solution.

    • Salt water nose drops (saline) – This is a treatment that is adopted mostly for children who are below the ages of two years. This is done by putting drops of saline solution into the toddler’s nose with an eyedropper.

    • Humidifier – This device is used to moisten the atmosphere because breathing dry air can trigger congestion. By pumping moisture in the air, you increase the humidity in the air which makes breathing easier.

    • Saline Spray – A saline spray can help release any mucus clogged nose. Other nasal sprays may contain stronger decongestants, but a saline spray contains just salt and water. As mentioned earlier, the prolonged use of saline spray, just like other decongestants, may cause rebound congestion.

    • Warm Compress – You can do this by using a warm towel or washcloth, not hot water, use warm water. Afterwards, you should squeeze out the excess water and place the cloth or towel on your upper nose. The warmth will help decongest your nose. However, do not leave the warm towel for too long else it will burn your skin. 

    • Other natural ways are using essential oils, hydration, herbs and spices, and neti pot. These natural remedies have proven to aid congestion.

Important Features

  • Age: Many of the stronger decongestants are not to be given to children younger than 12years of age. This is because their effectiveness on children is not well-known. Also, their side effects on young people still require more research..

  • Risks associated with decongestants: Some decongestants have nasty side effects, including heart issues like tachycardia and dysrhythmia, palpitations, and high blood pressure. Also, if you use decongestants too often, you can develop rhinitis medicamentosa, or “rebound congestion”. This happens when you use the decongestants for almost a week. Rebound congestion is when you experience nasal congestion immediately after you stop using the decongestant. This leads to the use of the decongestant continually, leading to rhinitis medicamentosa.

  • Severe reactions: In addition, in severe reactions, decongestants can lead to seizures, kidney failure, strokes, and even psychotic symptoms. The most common are irritability, nervousness, and insomnia.

  • People who cannot take decongestants: Decongestants should not be taken by some people, especially those who have:

    • Glaucoma

    • Diabetes

    • A hyperactive thyroid gland

    • Prostate issues

    • Heart challenges

    • Kidney disease or other kidney-related issues.

In all, do well to read the leaflet that comes with your decongestant before you take them, or consult your doctor.

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