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With so many allergy symptom treatments on the market, it can be difficult to sort out which product may be right for you. FLONASE nasal sprays are a popular and effective option, but in some circumstances you may wish to consider a nasal decongestant instead. Learn more about nasal decongestants, how they work and what types are available, and find out how they compare to FLONASE allergy sprays.


Nasal decongestants are medicines used for temporary relief of nasal congestion, and may come in the form of pills or nasal sprays. Their active ingredients often include pseudoephedrine (PSE), phenylephrine (PE) and topical oxymetazoline.


The main function of a nasal decongestant is to reduce the congestion, or stuffiness you feel in your nose when you’re sick.1

When you have a cold or allergies, your immune system responds by sending a flood of white blood cells to your nasal area to combat the invading virus or allergen.2 These cells produce a range of inflammatory substances to fight off the invaders – but these substances also cause the blood vessels in the linings of the nasal passages to swell and increase the production of mucus. This combination of narrower nasal passages and increased mucus create the feeling of a blocked, stuffy nose – in other words, nasal congestion.3

Nasal decongestants work by narrowing the blood vessels in the lining of the nose. This reduces the blood flow through the area. The swollen tissue inside the nose then shrinks and allows air to pass through more easily, easing congestion.3


A wide variety of drugs are used for their nasal decongestant effect. Many over-the-counter cold or allergy medications feature one of these ingredients, although sometimes a remedy will include two or more of the drugs to target more symptoms.

Always make sure you read the product label and choose a remedy that targets your particular symptoms. Ask your doctor for advice if you are not sure.


Potential side effects of using nasal decongestants may include:4

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • increased nervousness
  • palpitations
  • restlessness or trouble sleeping.

Speak to your doctor before using a nasal decongestant if you have any of the following pre-existing conditions: 4

  • heart disease
  • glaucoma
  • thyroid issues
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • an enlarged prostate gland


While nasal decongestants are only designed to relieve a stuffy nose, FLONASE nasal sprays are different. FLONASE products relieve congestion, but also target other allergy symptoms, including sneezing, runny or itchy nose, and itchy, watery eyes. In addition, FLONASE once-daily nasal sprays provide 24-hour symptom relief, while some nasal decongestants must be taken multiple times a day.

Find out more about how allergy nasal sprays compare to pills and see how easy it is to use FLONASE nasal sprays.

It is important to note that nasal decongestant sprays like Afrin® are not to be used for longer than three days, as the label directs. FLONASE Allergy Relief nasal spray and FLONASE Sensimist Allergy Relief, on the other hand, can be used daily as directed for adults and children 12 years of age and older.

FLONASE products are not intended for children younger than 2 years of age. Children’s FLONASE Allergy Relief nasal spray can be used for children aged 4-11 years. Children’s FLONASE Sensimist Allergy Relief can be used for children aged 2 years and older. Always read the directions on the product label before use.

Learn more about how FLONASE can efficiently and effectively treat your allergy symptoms.

FLONASE SENSIMIST is indicated for itchy, watery eyes in adults and children 12 years of age and older. See product pages for full information.

Mucinex® is a registered trademark of Reckitt Benckiser.

Vicks Sinex™ Nighttime Liquicaps is a trademark of Procter & Gamble.

Afrin® is a registered trademark of Bayer.


  1. MayoClinic. Allergy medications: Know your options. Accessed August 1, 2018. 
  2. Immune System Kick-Started in Moist Nasal Lining in Sinusitis, Asthma And Colds. John Hopkins Medicine. Accessed 16/12/19.
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Don’t let decongestants squeeze your heart. Accessed July 15, 2019.
  4. Pharmacy Times. A Guide to the Proper Use of Nonprescription Decongestant Products. Accessed July 15, 2019.