Decongestants can be great to treat symptoms of your cold or flu. But they may not always be right for you. Be sure to check out this guide to decongestants before you head to the drugstore.
What are decongestants?
Decongestants are a variety of different medications that help clear up sinus and head congestion. Some familiar decongestants are:
How much do decongestants cost?
Around $0.25 per dose
Between $3.99 and $12.49 per box, depending on brand and size
Are decongestants effective?
Decongestants are considered relatively effective for minor congestion from viruses and other illnesses. If your illness has become an infection, decongestants may not be as effective. You may need antibiotics to treat the infection before the decongestants will work to clear the congestion.
Who should not use decongestants?
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Pregnant women or those who are trying to get pregnant
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Men with prostate problems
You should always talk to your doctor about any medications you are on and possible interactions before taking a new medication, even if it is over the counter.
Are there any side effects?
Some common side effects you may experience are:
- Confusion or feeling nervous
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
More serious side effects that should be reported to your doctor immediately include:
- Chest pain or heart palpitations
- Dizziness or fainting
- Numbness or pain in hands or feet
- Difficulty breathing
- Bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain
What is the dosage?
For adults and children over 12 years old:
- 2 tablets every 4-6 hours, not to exceed 4 doses in 24 hours
For children 6-12 years old:
- 1 tablet every 4-6 hours, not to exceed 4 doses in 24 hours
For children 2 - under 6 years old:
- 1 teaspoon of Children's Sudafed Liquid every 4-6 hours, not to exceed 4 doses in 24 hours.
For children under 2 years old:
- Ask his or her doctor