Decongestants for Sinusitis
Decongestants for Sinusitis
|Generic Name||Brand Name|
These products are available as nasal sprays, nose drops, tablets, and liquids.
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.
How It Works
Decongestants reduce swelling of the mucous membrane in the nose and sinuses associated with sinusitis by constricting blood vessels and reducing the blood supply to nasal mucous membranes. This reduces nasal congestion, stuffiness, and runny noses.
Unlike oral decongestants, nasal decongestants constrict blood vessels only in the nose and not in other parts of the body. So they rarely cause the side effects that oral decongestants do. Unfortunately, use of nasal decongestants is safe only for a short period of time, because their use can lead to further swelling of the sinus membranes as they wear off, creating more congestion, which in turn requires higher doses of medicine (called rebound congestion ).
Why It Is Used
Decongestants are used to treat symptoms caused by nasal blockage and sinusitis. They may be used along with antibiotics and home treatment.
How Well It Works
Decongestants do not cure sinusitis, but they may reduce symptoms. footnote 1
Nasal sprays cannot reach the mucous membranes deeper in the nose and inside the sinuses. Oral decongestants may be needed to reduce swelling in these areas.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
- Trouble breathing.
- Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor if you have:
- Fast or pounding heartbeat.
- Dizziness or light-headedness.
- Difficult or painful urination.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
- Nervousness or restlessness.
- Trouble sleeping.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Nasal sprays containing decongestants should not be used for more than 3 days in a row. If used for longer periods, you may have rebound congestion.
Decongestants may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Do not give cough and cold medicines to a child younger than 6 unless your child's doctor has told you to. Before you use them, check the label. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and in some cases weight.
Talk with your doctor before you use decongestants if you have other health problems such as:
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Current as of: November 14, 2014
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service representative, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
Speak to a Pharmacist
Do you have questions about medications? You can call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the hearing-impaired) to talk to a pharmacist about your medication questions. Our pharmacists are available by calling 8-1-1 every night from 5pm to 9am - when your community pharmacist may be unavailable.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.