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How Do I Choose the Best Stuffy Nose Medicine?

Many stuffy nose medications treat other symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, or headache.
Stuffy nose medicines come in a variety of forms, such as tablet, nasal spray and fluid.
Stuffy nose medicines come in a variety of forms, including tablets, nasal sprays, and liquids.
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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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Choosing the best stuffy nose medicine typically involves deciding what form the medicine will take, what other symptoms to treat, and how much to pay. Stuffy nose medicines come in various forms, such as tablet, nasal spray, and liquid. Often, this type of medicine is designed to treat cough, sore throat, and sinus headaches in addition to a runny or stuffy nose, so narrowing down the choices may involve picking which, if any, other symptoms should be treated. In addition, the final decision may be influenced by your shopping budget because medicine for nasal congestion can vary significantly in price. Lastly, do not forget to read online reviews to learn about other consumers' positive and negative reactions to the medications.

The form of stuffy nose medicine is important to some people, often because they find one form easier to take than another. Tablets or pills are common forms of over-the-counter nasal congestion medications, frequently designed to be easy to swallow. Nasal sprays are typically sprayed into the nose and inhaled, but should not be used for more than a few days due to their capability of worsening congestion. Lastly, liquid stuffy nose medicine often comes with a measuring cup to pour into and drink from. All of these forms have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best form differs from person to person.

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If you wish to treat a stuffy nose and nothing else, there is likely no reason to purchase a medicine with multiple active ingredients that target various other conditions. In fact, doing this might cost more than buying a medicine that targets just one symptom or only common symptoms of a cold. It may also increase your risk of experiencing side effects because the medicine contains additional drugs. Read the labels and try to avoid a stuffy nose medicine that claims to temporarily relieve almost every cold or sinus symptom a person could possibly experience.

Medication prices tend to vary wildly, but a consumer can usually find some consistency in the pricing of stuffy nose medicine. For example, generic brands are normally cheaper than well-known, heavily advertised brands and often include the very same active ingredients in the same doses. Read the ingredients, typically located on the back of the bottle or box, to confirm this and choose the cheaper of the two if you are on a budget. Otherwise, there is generally nothing wrong with sticking with a favorite well-trusted brand.

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MissDaphne
Post 2

@dfoster85 - I've heard that about babies and cold medicine. My pediatrician will recommend baby Benadryl sometimes for congested toddlers, but I know it's not the standard advice. (Actually, you have to get children's Benadryl and the pediatrician tells you how much to give because the bottle says it's for, I think, ages four and up.)

Benadryl, of course, makes you sleepy, like all the old antihistamines, so that's another consideration in choosing a cold medicine. For myself, I like to get one of the new non-drowsy antihistamines like Claritin, with a decongestant in it. But to get pseudophedrine, which is probably the most effective OTC decongestant, you have to ask at the pharmacy counter. People use it in their meth labs, so it's pretty tightly regulated.

dfoster85
Post 1

When I asked my pediatrician what medicine to use for my toddler's stuffy nose, he said no medicine at all! Apparently cold medicines are no longer considered safe or even effective for young children.

Fortunately, he did have other suggestions. He said that a humidifier was good; so is hanging out in the bathroom while someone is showering (for the steam). Saline nose drops help soften the congestion so that you can suck it out with one of those bulb aspirators.

With a younger baby, a crib wedge can be helpful, but he said those are dicey with toddlers because they put baby closer to the top of the crib and thus make it easier to climb out.

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