What is a Decongestant?
That feeling when your nose is stuffy and you can’t breathe? That’s nasal congestion. Even mild congestion can be a pain, making it tough to breathe through your nose and your head feel heavy or full. Blood vessels in your nose swell, blocking your upper airways. Mucus can also clog your nose, making the problem even worse.
Decongestants are available to “un-stuff” your stuffy nose.
What Does a Decongestant Do?
Decongestants provide relief and reduce swelling, inflammation and the formation of mucus, allowing your upper airways to open for easier breathing. You do not need a prescription for decongestants in most states, although your pharmacist may keep them behind the counter.
Decongestant vs. Antihistamine
Antihistamines provide relief for many allergy symptoms, including runny nose, watery eyes and itchy throat, but often do not alleviate congestion. Antihistamines block the immune response that causes discomfort when an allergen is inhaled through your nose or touches your eyes. Decongestants and antihistamines can often function together. Products such as Claritin-D® 24-Hour, which contain both an antihistamine and a nasal decongestant , can provide long-lasting, 24-hour relief of allergy symptoms, including nasal congestion.
Other Home Remedies for Congestion
Saline, or saltwater, intranasal sprays are a natural way to wash the mucus out of your nostrils. Since decongestants are not recommended for children under 12, saline spray is a very popular way to provide relief for a stuffy nose.
Humidifiers can help relieve congestion by adding moisture to the air in your bedroom. They are perfect to use during sleep and colder months, and counteract the dryness in the nose due to inflammation with moisturizing humidity.
Take a hot shower. Breathing in steam can thin mucus and will help drain it from your nose, offering relief.
Drink fluids. Staying hydrated is always important, particularly when you’re sick or suffering from allergies. Hot teas and liquids can help soothe the inflammation in the nose and prevent dehydration.
Place a hot towel on your forehead. This can help ease pain and pressure caused by congestion.
Avoid nonallergic irritants. Cigarette smoke, chlorine in pools, perfumes and more can all irritate the sinuses. If you suffer from congestion, it is best to avoid irritating substances.
The Claritin® Difference
Oral pills and intranasal sprays are both popular treatments for allergy symptoms; however, Claritin-D® 12-Hour improves nasal airflow 2 times more than the leading allergy spray at hour one, based on peak intake after the first dose versus fluticasone propionate. Additionally, Claritin-D® is indicated to relieve eight symptoms compared to six symptoms with the leading allergy spray, based on label indications versus 50mg per spray fluticasone propionate.
Follow Guidelines for Decongestants
Generally speaking, there are more restrictions when taking a decongestant than an antihistamine alone. Do not take decongestants if you are taking an MAOI inhibitor and check with your doctor if you have an existing medical condition. Carefully read warning labels on decongestants and all other medications before taking them.
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- Decongestants to Treat Allergy Symptoms. Healthline. Accessed March 18, 2020.
- Decongestants. WebMD. Accessed March 18, 2020.
- An Overview of Decongestants. Verywell Health. Accessed March 18, 2020.
- Allergy Medications. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed March 18, 2020.
- The Chemistry of Decongestants. Compound Interest. Accessed March 18, 2020.