Nasal Decongestant prescriptions available online

Learn how decongestants can help congestion with a consultation from one of our board-certified primary care doctors online. Get a new prescription or refill for decongestants from a top-rated doctor online.*

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Three types of decongestant medications

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About nasal decongestants

Nasal decongestants are medications designed to relieve congestion by reducing swelling, inflammation, and mucus formation in the nasal and sinus tissues. Decongestants have no other effect on congestion symptoms, such as a stuffy nose or sneezing.

Decongestants may be taken orally to help reduce nose congestion, sinus congestion, or eye congestion. They can also be sprayed directly in the nose or installed in the eye for a localized effect. 
Most decongestants are used to help treat congestion caused by the common cold, flu, sinusitis, or allergic rhinitis, but over-the-counter decongestants are also available. There are three types of decongestants: nasal, oral, and ophthalmic applied medications.

What decongestants treat

The most common condition treated with decongestants is allergic rhinitis. Decongestants are designed to narrow the blood vessels in your nasal and airway membranes, which helps drain mucus so you can breathe easier.

Other conditions are also treated with decongestants. Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter decongestant or prescription medication to treat congestion associated with the common cold, flu virus, and other illnesses.

Types of decongestants available online

The three types of decongestant medications: nasal, oral, and ophthalmic. Some prescription and OTC medicines may just contain decongestant medicine, while others are sold as an "all-in-one" solution that contains decongestants, pain relief medicine, or antihistamines.

  • Nasal spray decongestants

    Nasal decongestant nasal sprays are used to provide short-term relief from nasal and sinus congestion. Nasal decongestants are usually either short-acting (3–4 hours) or long-acting (8–12 hours). 
    Some nasal sprays shouldn't be used for more than three days. If you become dependent on nasal sprays or nose drops, you may feel more stuffed up when you stop using them. This is called "rebound nasal congestion."

    Examples of nasal decongestant sprays include:


    Oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Afrin)

    Flonase (fluticasone propionate) Astelin (azelastine)


  • Oral nasal decongestants

    Oral decongestants, including oral antihistamines,are available in the form of oral tablets, liquid suspensions, capsules, or flavored powders. They help to relieve nasal congestion caused by colds, allergies, and hay fever. Oral medicines can also help relieve sinus congestion and pressure.

    Unlike nasal sprays, oral decongestants do not cause rebound congestion. However, they're usually not as effective or fast-acting as nasally administered decongestants.

    Examples of oral decongestant medicines include:

    Claritin (loratadine)

    Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)

    Allegra (fexofenadine)

    Sudafed PE (phenylephrine)


  • Ophthalmic decongestants

    Ophthalmic decongestant medications are used to provide temporary relief from redness, burning, and minor irritation in the eyes. They also help reduce redness by constricting dilated blood vessels.

    Examples of eye drops include:

    Visine (naphazoline hydrochloride ophthalmic)

    Clear Eyes Cooling Comfort Redness Relief (naphazoline hydrochloride/glycerin ophthalmic)

    Visine Advanced Relief (tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride ophthalmic)

How decongestants work

When your body detects a virus, it sends extra blood to the blood vessels in your nose to fight the virus. In turn, your nasal tissues and blood vessels become swollen, which makes it harder to breathe through your nose.

Decongestants act to shrink swollen blood vessels, which helps relieve swelling, inflammation, and mucus formation within the nasal passages. Swollen tissue inside the nose shrinks, and air can pass through more easily.

  • Side effects of decongestants

    When taken as prescribed, decongestants are generally well tolerated. However, they can still cause some side effects. The most common side effects of decongestants include:

    • Drowsiness

    • Irritation of the lining of your nose

    • Headache

    • Dry mouth

    • Feeling restless or agitated

    • Skin rash

    In rare cases, decongestants may cause serious side effects. These can include:

    • Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat

    • Severe dizziness or anxiety

    • Easy bruising or bleeding

    • Unusual weakness

    • Unusually high blood pressure

  • Decongestant risks

    Decongestants are generally safe, but there are some risks if you have other medical conditions or take certain medications.

    Before you take a prescribed decongestant, be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions or issues:

    • High blood pressure

    • Heart disease

    • Urinary problems

    • Diabetes

    • Glaucoma

    • Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)

  • Decongestant drug interactions 

    When you begin a new medication, make sure to tell your doctor about any other medications, supplements, or herbs you’re taking. Some medications that might interact with a decongestant include:

    • Blood pressure medications, including guanethidine, methyldopa, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers

    • MAO inhibitors, including isocarboxazid, linezolid, and metaxalone

    • Certain antidepressants

    Avoid using more than one over-the-counter decongestant medicine unless your doctor says it's OK. Multiple medications may have similar active ingredients.

Decongestants FAQs

  • How should I take decongestants? 

    Take decongestants as prescribed by your doctor or as recommended by the patient information that came with your medication. Most decongestants should be used between one and four times a day. If you're not sure how often to use your medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice.

  • Who shouldn’t take decongestants?

    Avoid taking decongestants if you have certain medical conditions, such as:

    • High blood pressure

    • Heart disease

    • Urinary problems

    • Diabetes

    • Glaucoma

    • Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)

  • How long does it take for decongestants to work?

    Most oral decongestants start to work within 15–30 minutes, with noticeable symptom relief between 30 and 60 minutes. Eye drops and nasal sprays typically work faster to relieve congestion.

  • What should I avoid with decongestants?

    Avoid drinking excess caffeine, using herbal supplements without your doctor's approval, or using other stimulants while taking decongestants. Stimulants can increase your risk of adverse effects, such as insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, and tremors, especially if you're taking a higher dose of decongestant medicine.

    Avoid taking oral decongestants with monoamine oxide inhibitors (MAOIs) and other antidepressants without your doctor's approval. Make sure to tell your doctor about any medications you're taking.

    In addition, using nonprescription nasal sprays for more than 3–4 days can cause a rebound effect, which leads to worse nasal congestion after the decongestant wears off. Avoid using nasal sprays for OTC relief longer than needed.

  • What is the most effective decongestant?

    According to a study from 2009, pseudoephedrine is significantly more effective at alleviating nasal congestion than placebo medication.

    With that said, the best decongestant will depend on your specific symptoms, type of congestion, and condition. Your healthcare professional can choose the best prescription for your congestion symptoms.

  • What does a decongestant do?

    Decongestants provide short-term relief for a blocked or stuffy nose (nasal congestion). They help relieve the symptoms of congestion from the cold virus, flu, hay fever, nonallergic rhinitis, and other conditions.

  • Can a doctor prescribe pseudoephedrine?

    Yes, a licensed medical doctor can prescribe some preparations of pseudoephedrine to relieve congestion. Some preparations of pseudoephedrine are available over the counter (without a prescription).

    Fortunately, you can set an appointment with PlushCare’s doctors to buy pseudoephedrine online. The average appointment takes just 15 minutes and you can leave with a prescription that’s right for you, if you qualify.

  • What can doctors prescribe for congestion?

    Doctors can prescribe different medications for congestion depending on who's taking the medication, their age, their general health, and their symptoms. Some prescription options for treating congestion include decongestants, antihistamines, intranasal corticosteroids, and nasal sprays.

    Combination products are also available. Some medications may combine decongestant medicine, antihistamines, and pain relievers for additional symptom relief.

3 simple steps to getting decongestants online 

Step 1

Book an appointment to discuss decongestants.

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Step 2

Talk to your board certified primary care doctor online.

See a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3

Pick up your decongestants prescription from your online doctor.

We can send decongestants to any local pharmacy.

Decongestants pricing details

How pricing works

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Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

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Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

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PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.