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The FDA panel has issued a warning concerning nasal congestion



Indianapolis, Indiana – Nasal decongestants with the drug phenylephrine are long what people reach for to kick congestion in the nose, but now an FDA panel says the pills are not effective.

There are alternatives when it comes to using the drug phenylephrine. Experts say topical forms of the drug, such as nasal sprays, do work.

“Nasal sprays are very effective at helping with decongestion for limited use,” said Dr. Elisa Illing, an IU Health Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgeon. “Although they can become addictive with chronic use meaning every day use more than a week in duration.”

Dr. Illing said that using phenylephrine sprays can be dangerous.

“We as ENT doctors recommend it commonly for viral flair-ups that cause nasal congestion sometimes for allergy congestion, but not for more than one week at a time,” said Illing. “If you use it too much, you can get a rebound congestion following that, which is worse than how stuffy and congested you were initially.”

Illing says the drug phenylephrine can be found alone in pill form in medicines such as Sudafed. It can also be found in other oral medications such as Dayquil. The other active ingredients in many of these cold medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or dextromethorphan, a cough medicine, are still known to be effective orally.

“A lot of your non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, those are really helpful for some of the aches and pains you might get with an upper respiratory infection or a viral infection,” said Illing. “Those do help and some of the expectorants and the mucolytic agents we also think are effective.”

Illing says phenylephrine does not counteract the effective ingredients in these medicines, it just doesn’t add any value to the pill or liquid medication.

The FDA panel that issued this updated guidance says the oral pills are not harmful to you, they’re just not effective.

Those suffering from nasal congestion issues should talk with their doctor if they have specific concerns about allergies or cold medications.