Over-the-counter (OTC) Relief for a Stuffy

Nasal congestion or stuffiness is the blockage of the nasal passageway by mucus. It is usually related to another health problem, such as allergies or a cold. The stuffiness occurs when the lining and blood vessels of the nose become swollen, causing more mucus to flow into the nose and become backed up.

The two medications available in oral form are phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed 12-hour). Both medications may cause restlessness and can increase blood pressure. Nasal decongestant sprays or drops such as Afrin (oxymetazoline) are also available OTC. These products should not be used for more than 3 days, because they can cause the congestion to worsen, once they are stopped. Side effects of the nasal sprays and drops are similar to the oral decongestants along with some nasal irritation.