Is Sudafed a good treatment for my blocked nose? Sudafed is a brand name for an oral decongestant that can contain pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine (Sudafed PE). Generally, pseudoephederine is a more potent decongestant and is available over-the-counter behind the pharmacy counter. These decongestants are taken by mouth, as opposed to topical decongestant nasal sprays such as oxymetazoline (Afrin, Sinex, Vicks).
Decongestants shrink swollen tissues and blood vessels within the nasal cavities and paranasal (around the nose) sinuses. So, if you have a cold, allergies, or a sinus infection they can help open the nose for breathing. Thus, providing relief of nasal congestion.
Unlike topical decongestants, the oral medications do not damage the mucous membrane of the nose, cause rebound congestion or addiction with continued use. Still, long-term use is not advised due to potential side effects as well as unknown effects of chronic use. Also, if congestion persists for several weeks, there may be underlying causes (such as nasal polyps or bacterial infection) that require medical treatment with a physician.
Possible side effects include insomnia, a jittery feeling, and heart palpitations. Ask your doctor before using decongestants if you have any of the following:
2. High blood pressure
3. Heart conditions
5. Thyroid problems
6. Enlarged prostate
Oral decongestants are different from antihistamines (Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin, Benadryl) which may be helpful for controlling sneezing and runny nose associated with allergies and colds. Antihistamines may be combined with decongestants (Allegra-D, etc).
Finally, oral decongestants may help relieve a congested nose for the short term such as a cold or exacerbation of allergies but long-term use is not recommended.