DECONGESTANTS – INTRODUCTION
A drug that shrinks the swollen membranes in the nose, making it easier for a person to breathe. Decongestants can be taken orally or as nasal spray. Decongestant nasal spray should not be used for more than 5 days without a physician’s recommendation. Many decongestant nasal sprays cause a worsening of symptoms (a rebound effect) when they are taken for too long and then discontinued. Decongestants should not be used by people who have high blood pressure unless they are under a physician’s supervision.
DECONGESTANTS – INDICATION
Decongestants are a type of medicine that can provide short-term relief for a blocked nose (nasal congestion).
DECONGESTANTS – INFORMATION
A drug may be classified by the chemical type of the active ingredient or by the way it is used to treat a particular condition. Each drug can be classified into one or more drug classes.
Decongestants are sympathomimetic drugs that act by stimulating the alpha-adrenergic receptors. Decongestants are either taken orally or applied locally in the form of nasal sprays or drops. The decongestant effect is due to vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the nose, sinuses, etc. The vasoconstriction effect reduces swelling or inflammation and mucus formation in the nasal passage and makes it easier to breath.
How decongestants work
The skin lining in your nose contains many tiny blood vessels. If something irritates this lining, such as an infection or allergy, more blood flows to these vessels as part of your body’s immune response, making them swell.
This can block your nasal airway, making it difficult for you to breathe through your nose.
Decongestants reduce swelling of the blood vessels inside your nose. This helps to open up your nasal airway, making breathing easier.
However, although decongestants can help you to breathe more easily, they cannot cure the underlying cause of your blocked nose, such as a cold or allergy.
They can be taken to ease the symptoms of congestion when you have:
- a common cold
- hay fever, or other allergic reactions, such as to dust mites
- the flu
Many decongestants can be bought over the counter in pharmacies without a prescription. They are available as tablets or a nasal spray.
When side effects occur after taking decongestants, they tend to be mild. These can include:
- dry mouth
- feeling sick
More serious side effects have been reported, such as hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not real) and a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), but these are rare.