Decongestants may help shrink swollen tissues in the nose, sinuses, throat, and the space behind the eardrum (middle ear). This may relieve pressure, pain, and stuffiness (congestion).
Decongestants can be taken by mouth as a pill or liquid (oral) or used as nose drops, sprays, or gels. The oral kind provide longer relief but may cause more side effects than the ones that are used in the nose. Sprays and drops provide rapid but temporary relief.
To know if an over-the-counter medicine contains a decongestant, check the label for the active ingredient. Examples of decongestants are:
In some provinces, medicines containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) are kept behind the pharmacist's counter or require a prescription. You may need to ask the pharmacist for it or have a prescription from your doctor to buy the medicine.
For more information about medicine safety, see Over-the-Counter Medicine Precautions and Quick Tips: Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Children.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDonald R. Mintz, MD, FRCSC - Otolaryngology
Current as ofMarch 28, 2018
Current as of: March 28, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Donald R. Mintz, MD, FRCSC - Otolaryngology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.