Decongestants or nasal sprays may help relieve a stuffy
Decongestants shrink swollen tissues in the space behind the
eardrum (middle ear). This may relieve pressure and pain. They
can be taken by mouth (oral) or in nose drops or sprays. Oral decongestants are
probably more effective and provide longer relief than drops or sprays, but
they cause more side effects.
Sprays and drops provide rapid but
temporary relief. Sprays and drops are less likely to interact with other
medicines, which can be a problem with oral decongestants.
Look for a single-ingredient decongestant that
contains pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine.
Be careful with these medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight. For your baby, you
can use a suction bulb to gently remove mucus from your baby's nose.
Do not use medicated nasal
sprays or drops more often than directed and not longer than 3 days. Continued
use will cause your mucous membranes to swell more than before using the spray
Drink extra fluids when you are taking cold
If you are not certain about which decongestant to use,
pharmacist or doctor for help.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.