Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Allergy Nasal Congestion in Adults

Home treatment measures for congestion in a person with allergic rhinitis include general measures and medications. Medications include oral decongestants, decongestant nasal sprays and antihistamines.

General Measures

  • Blow your nose gently. Forceful blowing can cause pain and bleeding.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the nostrils if the skin becomes dry.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Place a vaporizer or nebulizer in the bedroom at night.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nose spray, such as Ocean Nasal Mist: saline helps to keep the lining of nasal passages moist. Saline may be used to flush the nasal passages:
    • Lie on your back and tilt your head back.
    • Apply 2- 4 drops of saline in one on nostril, then wait 1 minute.
    • Blow your nose.
    • Repeat in the other nostril.

Oral Decongestants
Oral decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), help to thin the mucus responsible for the congestion. Decongestants are safe for adults and adolescents.

Decongestant precautions:

Decongestant Sprays
Decongestant nasal sprays, such as pseudoephedrine (Afrin) can relieve congestion faster than oral medications.

Examples include:
  • Afrin Nasal Spray
  • Duration Nasal Spray
  • Four-Way Fast Nasal Spray
  • Neo-Synephrine Nasal Spray
  • Vicks Sinex Nasal Spray

Precautions include:
  • Do not use decongestant nasal sprays for longer than 3 days. After three days, the nasal tissues become dependent on the medication. When the medication is stopped, the nasal tissue swells and congestion worsens.

Antihistamines
Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) brompheniramine and chlorpheniramine, dry nasal tissue.

Examples include:

Antihistamine precautions:

Continue to Allergy Nasal Congestion in Children

Last Updated: Nov 10, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Allergy Nasal References
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  3. Meltzer EO, Szwarcberg J, Pill MW: Allergic rhinitis, asthma, and rhinosinusitis: diseases of the integrated airway. J Manag Care Pharm 2004 Jul-Aug; 10(4): 310-7. [15298529]
  4. Nielsen LP, Mygind N, Dahl R: Intranasal corticosteroids for allergic rhinitis: superior relief? Drugs 2001; 61(11): 1563-79. [11577794]
  5. Nimmagadda SR, Evans R 3rd: Allergy: etiology and epidemiology. Pediatr Rev 1999 Apr; 20(4): 111-5. [10208083]
  6. Veling MC, Trevino RJ: The treatment of allergic rhinitis with immunotherapy: a review of 1,000 cases. Ear Nose Throat J 2001 Aug; 80(8): 542-3. [11523472]
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