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Allergic Rhinitis and Oral Decongestants

Read more about Oral Decongestants.


A common symptom of allergic rhinitis is congestion. Oral decongestants can reduce congestion, making it easier for you to breathe and less likely that you will develop an infection (such as sinusitis).

Common brand names include:

Decongestants are also available in the form of nasal sprays.

Effect of Oral Decongestants on Allergic Rhinitis

The mucus that produces congestion is part of the immune system's inflammatory response to allergens. Decongestants work by shrinking the tissues and blood vessels that have become inflamed, thereby reducing congestion.

Side Effects and Warnings

If you are taking any other medications, check with your doctor before beginning to use these medications. Avoid using caffeinated products while you’re taking these drugs. Don’t drink alcohol, take sedative medications, or use monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) antidepressants while you are taking oral decongestants.

Before you take oral decongestants, check with your doctor if you have other medical conditions, particularly:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Prostate problems or other conditions that make it difficult for you to urinate
  • Migraine headaches
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Emphysema or chronic bronchitis

Possible side effects include:

  • Racing heart
  • Feelings of agitation, anxiety
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased blood pressure