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A 77-year-old member asked:

Is it a bad idea to use afrin for occasional nasal congestion?

5 doctor answers8 doctors weighed in
Dr. Johnnie Strickland Jr
Family Medicine 34 years experience
Depends: Afrin (oxymetazoline) can elevate blood pressure; so it should definitely be avoided in uncontrolled hypertensive patients and anyone with significant cardiac disease. Also, using it for more than three days tends to lead to a "rebound congestion" just as bad as the original congestion your were treating. Pharmaceutical grade essential oil of peppermint is a safer choice www.Medacpc.Com.
Dr. Eric Handler
Emergency Medicine 21 years experience
Occasional is ok: Just avoid using it for more than three days as this can cause a rebound congestion. You can alternate nostrils to decrease the chance of that happening. That is use only in the left for 12 hrs and then spray the right.
Dr. Patrick Melder
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 28 years experience
OK to use: Afrin for occasional nasal congestion is perfectly fine. You can get rebound with sustained use (3-5 days). But it is safe and effective. I use it myself with a cold. It can elevated bp... So just be aware of that as a side effect and it can afffect your sleep.
Dr. Farhad Sigari
Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery 21 years experience
Afrin (oxymetazoline): Afrin gives relief by decongesting the nasal vasculature - specifially that of the turbinates. Yes, afrin can be used occasionally for symptoms. However, continuous use daily for than 3-5 days may lead to a physiologic dependence on the medication ( where the patient becomes congested all the time). Use with caution.
Dr. David Astrachan
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 38 years experience
Generally yes: Over the counter decongestant sprays such as afrin and neosynephrine (phenylephrine) are ok for rare use. They are very addictive in that the structures in the nose that cause obstruction (called turbinates) love those sprays. The more you use them the more the structures want them and before you know it your nose won't clear without them. The bottles say don't use for more than 3 days. I agree.
Last updated Oct 23, 2017

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