When allergies make your nose stuffed up, an antihistamine won't help. But a decongestant might.
Here's how decongestants work: Allergies make the lining of your nose swell. Decongestants shrink swollen blood vessels and tissues. That relieves the congestion. But decongestants can’t help with sneezing or itching.
Larissa Stouffer of Melrose, Mass., usually sneezes not once, not twice, but
three times. She sneezes as she gets into a car if it's sunny outside, but not
when it's cloudy; her dad does the same thing. And as soon as she pops some
mint chewing gum into her mouth, out comes an achoo.
Stouffer, 30, isn't the only one with a fickle nose. Many people sneeze at
peculiar moments -- such as after exercise, plucking their eyebrows, in the
sunshine, or after sex.
Here are the reasons why they sneeze...
Decongestants come in pills, liquids, nose drops, and nasal sprays. Many are available without a prescription. Common decongestants include:
Afrin, Dristan, Vicks Sinex (oxymetazoline)
Sudafed PE, Suphedrin PE (phenylephrine)
Silfedrine, Sudafed, Suphedrin (pseudoephedrine)
Some over-the-counter decongestants -- those with pseudoephedrine -- are found behind the pharmacy counter.
Many medicines combine an antihistamine and decongestant, like Allegra-D, Benadryl Allergy Plus Sinus, Claritin-D, and Zyrtec-D.
Don’t use nasal sprays longer than three days. Using them longer can actually make your nose more stopped up.
Ask your doctor before taking decongestants if you have:
High blood pressure that’s not under control
Decongestants make some people feel jittery or have trouble sleeping. If that happens, cut back on caffeine while taking them. If that doesn't help, you may need to stop taking them. Nasal sprays are less likely to cause these problems and may be a short-term solution.