Will Phenylephrine Help My Congestion?

With cold and flu season strongly upon us and with allergy season now running year round, we are often asked about how to treat congestion.  First off, for general overview of how to treat your symptoms –see our post about COLD and ALLERGY OTC MEDICATIONS.

Now -about congestion (nasal, head or chest)!  Many of you will remember when pseudoephedrine was moved from the aisle to behind the pharmacy counter.  People were irritated about having to go to the pharmacy and show their ID and so phenylephedrine (such as Sudafed-PE) became popular.  This is the oral decongestant you can just pick up from the aisle (and not talk to anyone/show ID).   Unfortunately, most people noticed that phenylephedrine products didn’t work that great against congestion.  And now, a recent study came out stating what most people and pharmacist knew all along, it doesn’t work any better than a placebo.

Now, we know not to waste our time and money on phenylephedrine, what can we use??

  1. Drink LOTS of water/fluids.  This will help thin all the mucus and allow the congestion to drain.
  2. Nasal RinsesThis can also help thin the mucus.  Especially helpful for nose and head congestion.  One note here, you do not want to use it if you are too congested.  If you are very congested, the water will not get through and instead will just get caught in your nasal passage and cause more issues!
  3. Humidifiers.  These help by giving more moisture in the air and therefore in your body which will help thin the mucus build up causing congestion.  Warm showers/baths and warm drinks like tea will also help in the same way and can be super soothing.
  4. Oral decongestant. Pseudoephedrine (like Sudafed).  This actually work as a decongestant!  Just be aware that it can make you feel jittery (like you drank a lot of coffee) and should be used with care if you have high blood pressure.
  5. Nasal Spray. You can use a saline nasal spray like Ocean Spray or a nasal decongestant like Afrin.  It is best to not use the nasal decongestant for more than 3 days.  If taken more than 3 days, it can cause rebound congestion.  Which means, it actually can make your congestion worse!

What is your go to remedy or medication that you use for congestion??

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