Decongestants narrows the blood vessels inside the lining of the nose, which reduces the amount of blood flow through the area so that the swollen tissue in the nose shrinks, and allows the air to pass easily.
Due to this action of decongestants, they help to quickly clear nasal passages, and are great when the nose infections are troublesome during the night, as the decongestant aids in sound sleep.
However, continuous use of decongestants like a nasal spray can be habit-forming and so after a certain period, doctors advice a patient to discontinue the use of such decongestants. However, natural remedies like steam or sauna therapy work very well and can be used more often compared to medical decongestants.
Most Effective Nasal Decongestants
Here are some of most common types of decongestants and the situations where the type of decongestant is most effective.
Saline nasal sprays provide quick relief, but not a lasting one. Saline based nasal sprays are safe for infants and children. However, it's important that you don't use nasal sprays for more than 3 days at once as they are habit-forming. Also, care should be taken while using the nasal sprays as they can have an allergic itching-like reaction in some people.
Steam inhalation or sauna therapy is one of the best natural decongestants and works very well for throat infections and sinus infection treatment. Also they are safe to be used by children and thus, are one of the best decongestants for children.
To use sauna therapy, boil some water in a pan. Pour the water in a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of decongestant ointment (optional) and inhale the medicated vapors with a towel covering your head.
Nasal irrigation using Neti pot works wonder too. However, not everybody finds the idea of nasal irrigation attractive! But, those who use Neti pot regularly for getting rid of nasal congestion swear by it. For nasal irrigation you can buy a Neti pot at a chemist. With the Neti pot box, you will find instructions on how to use it.
Basically, to use Neti pot a solution of salt and water is used. A person is supposed to stand near a sink, and tip their head to one side just above the sink. Then from the top nostril this solution is slowly introduced using the pot, and the solution along with mucus flows out from the other nostril.
This is one of the most effective way of clearing up sinuses. Make sure you stick to the instruction on using Neti pot on the box.
Oral decongestant works very well for people who are suffering from nasal blockage due to allergies. These decongestants are often combined with antihistamines and painkillers. Many OTC (over-the-counter) and prescription drugs contain pseudoephedrine. However, care should be taken with the amount of intake of pseudoephedrine.
These are really good decongestants and available in many varieties, and can be used when a person is suffering from common cold and coughs.
There are many herbal varieties of these decongestant ointments available at the drugstore. These are easy to use and have almost no side effects; one just needs to rub these ointments on forehead, chest, back and throat to get relief from the blocked nasal passages. They are available OTC, and are quite inexpensive.
These decongestants are gaining popularity and are used to clear nasal passages for nose infection and to stop snoring. One can buy a packet of nasal strips OTC, and just clip them on the nose, before going to bed to get rid of the blocked nose. They work quickly but provide temporary short time relief.
There are certain cough syrup decongestants which help to clear cough and nasal passages, and aid in clear breathing. You can get these cough syrup over-the-counter. While some are suitable for children, there are others that are meant for adults. Read the label properly before you buy these cough syrups, as some have a drowsy effect.
These were the types of decongestants, and the condition in which they work the best. Some of the best brands of decongestant are Sudafed (tablets), Vicks Vaporub (ointment), Breathe Right (nasal strips), etc. They are meant to provide relief from a blocked nose, however if the condition persists or becomes worse it is important that you contact a doctor.