A decongestant is a medicine that shrinks swollen membranes in the nasal passages to facilitate breathing. They reduce nasal congenstion by causing a narrowing of blood vessels, which results in decreased blood flow to the nasal membranes.
Decongestants come in the form or nasal sprays and pills or capsules that are taken orally. Below are certain medical conditions where these medications are known to produce side effects.
- Primary Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- Systemic hypertension (high blood pressure) that is inadequately controlled.
- Thyroid Disease
- Prostate Disease
If you have any of these conditions, speak with your physician before taking decongestants. Nasal decongestant sprays and eye drops only should be used for a period of 3-5 days, as prolonged use can lead to dependence. If the drug is then stopped, a rebound effect can occur, which causes the nasal congestion and other symptoms to worsen.
Additional Information about Decongestants
Decongestants: OTC Relief for Congestion from the American Academy of Family Physicians
Antihistamines, Decongestants, and Cold Remedies from the American Academy of Otolaryngology