Fall and winter often mean dealing with cold and allergy symptoms, but now, a popular ingredient found in oral cold and allergy medications has been deemed ineffective. The US Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee has determined that phenylephrine, the main ingredient in many over-the-counter congestion products, does not work in pill form. However, there are still options available to relieve congestion before seeking medical help.
Dr. David C. Brodner, an otolaryngologist in Boynton Beach, Florida, suggests trying home remedies or pharmacy remedies before visiting a doctor. Even without phenylephrine, there are alternative options available at the pharmacy to help relieve congestion. Dr. Brodner recommends a three-step plan: using products like Mucinex with guaifenesin to thin out mucus, using nasal sprays with steroids like Flonase or Nasacort, and using saline irrigation devices such as neti pots to wash out sinuses.
Neti pots and other saline nasal irrigation devices are particularly useful for those with chronic sinus pressure and headaches. These devices remove mucus and inflammatory products from the nose by flushing a salt solution through the sinuses. However, it is important to use sterile water or distilled water in these devices, as tap water may contain microbes that can cause infections.
Additional methods for relieving congestion include using warm compresses, taking hot showers, staying hydrated, eating spicy foods, and getting proper sleep. Warm compresses and steam from hot showers can help moisten and warm the nose, allowing mucus to flow more easily. Staying hydrated helps keep the nasal and sinus lining moist, making it easier for them to drain. Spicy foods containing capsaicin can cause a runny nose and help drain mucus. Finally, getting sufficient sleep is crucial for overall health and can aid in relieving congestion.
In conclusion, even without the use of phenylephrine, there are various remedies available to relieve congestion symptoms. From over-the-counter products to home remedies, individuals have options to try before seeking medical attention.