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3 Decongestant That Doesn’t Cause Anxiety And Makes Breathing Easy

Spring, the most anticipated season of the year for many, is considered a nightmare for a few. Well, not a few per se; it’s a nightmare for the portion of people who have allergies.

The word “allergies” paints a picture in our mind of stuffy noses, continuous sneezing, or headaches. This is what most people usually go through during allergy season. The best way to survive this horrendous season is by staying indoors as much as possible.

Staying indoors minimizes pollen exposure. However, if your allergies still deteriorate, taking allergy medicines, antihistamines, and decongestants is a must!

While decongestants can provide us temporary relief, there are a few downsides to them too. According to several studies, decongestants can affect a person’s anxiety.

However, it is easy to find a decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety. In this article, we have listed down the names of those decongestants and their side effects. But before taking them, do consult with a healthcare professional.

man need decongestant that doesn't cause anxiety

Table of Content

How Do Decongestants work?

Most people who have allergies during the spring are pretty familiar with nasal congestion. Commonly known as “stuffy nose,” it can turn into a major discomfort if not treated. It not only makes people uncomfortable, but it also affects a person’s productivity, work-life, sleep, and whatnot.

Antihistamines are generally for your itchy nose and sneezing. They won’t help with your stuffy nose, but decongestants might. Congestion problems are sometimes unbearable. The most immediate and effective solution for us during this time is taking decongestants.

And antihistamines usually do not work with nasal congestion. So, decongestants are the only option. But before getting into the treatment, it’s better to know how decongestants actually work.

Decongestants are over-the-counter (OTC) medications that are additionally taken to treat nasal congestion. When allergens enter our nasal passage, they cause slight inflammation on the nasal passage lining that causes swelling of our nose. Due to this swelling, it becomes hard to breathe. This is called nasal congestion.

Now, when someone takes decongestants, the active ingredients in the medication shrink the swollen blood vessels of the nasal passage. This relieves the congestion and makes it easier to breathe. Decongestants do not work with itching or sneezing.

What are the common Decongestants?

Decongestants are over-the-counter medications meaning anyone can buy them without a prescription. There are several pharmaceutical companies out there that manufacture numerous decongestants. Among them, the most common ones are

  • Afrin,
  • Dristan,
  • Vicks Sinex (oxymetazoline),
  • Sudafed PE,
  • Suphedrin PE (phenylephrine),
  • Silfedrine,
  • Sudafed,
  • Sanhedrin (pseudoephedrine).

Phenylephrine and phenylpropanolamine are the most common forms of decongestants available. They can almost be found at any pharmacy, even the local ones.

However, one of the side effects of phenylephrine is anxiety, so it is better not to consume it with any antidepressant medication. Nasal decongestants are also very popular now. But it is recommended not to use it for more than three days because a dependency will slowly grow for this medication.

List of Decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety

From the wide range of decongestants, a few do not cause anxiety as side effects. Thus, you can use them confidently without feeling down and depressed. Let’s check the names and how they work.


Pseudoephedrine is a nasal decongestant that is readily available in any pharmacy. Before 2007, anyone could buy pseudoephedrine or products containing pseudoephedrine. But in 2007, FDA placed restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine products due to the illegal use in the making of methamphetamine. Now, if anyone wants to buy this decongestant,

  • The buyer needs to present an ID
  • The seller needs to log the amount of pseudoephedrine the buyer buys in 2 years.
  • A person can buy a specific amount of pseudoephedrine each month.

Pseudoephedrine shows more efficacy than other nasal decongestants. However, pseudoephedrine should be taken in a limited amount and should not be used for more than three days at a time. While it is a decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety, it has other side effects. The side effects are given below,

  • Headache
  • Vomiting tendency
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness

But people who are suffering from chronic illnesses must consult with a  physician before taking pseudoephedrine. Hypertensive, diabetic patients or anyone who has a history of cardiovascular diseases must consult with healthcare professionals.

Intranasal decongestants

According to several studies, the usage of intranasal decongestants can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases rather than oral decongestants. Nasal sprays are a type of decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety. And you can directly apply it to the nose.

woman using decongestant that doesn't cause anxiety

It works the same way as oral decongestants. Best of all, nasal sprays also fall under the decongestants that do not cause anxiety. Some of the side effects may include,

  • Sudden sneezing
  • A burning sensation or itchiness
  • Dryness in the nose
  • Overuse of nasal sprays can cause rebound congestion or dependency on this medication.

There are different types of nasal sprays available. A few of them are elaborated below,

Steroid Nasal Sprays

Steroid nasal sprays are now the first line of treatment for moderate or severe allergies. It works effectively against nasal congestion and is also the fastest way to relieve a stuffy nose.

If the prescribed amount of nasal spray is used, then there is less risk of dependency. It usually works on the nasal lining, and it is totally safe. So, there will be no problem if it is swallowed accidentally. However, it is imperative to follow your doctor’s advice while using steroid nasal sprays like Flonase.

Saline sprays

Saline sprays are the safest way to get rid of nasal congestion. It is also safe for long-term usage. And it is the safest decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety or almost no side effects.

Saline sprays are nothing new. They have been in use for the past hundred years as a form of personal hygiene. While there are numerous benefits to it, there is still a risk of contamination from nasal sprays. So it needs to be used with utmost care to obtain maximum benefits.

Remember to keep the bottle clean and follow the instructions behind the bottle for storage. Also, always keep the bottle dry in between uses. These are the tips that can lower the risk of contamination.

Menthol nasal sprays

Last but not the least, there is another type of nasal spray that contains menthol. Like any other decongestant, it also works on the nasal lining and reduces inflammation. But, the menthol acts explicitly on the menthol receptors of the nose. The efficacy of this nasal spray is lower than the ones above, but it still makes the patient feel better.

While using any kind of nasal spray, make sure you use them properly and not more than one time a day. Also, please do not use it for more than three days at a time. In the case of steroid nasal sprays, remember only to use the prescribed amount.

Intranasal corticosteroids

Intranasal corticosteroids are a type of medication that can reduce mucus production in the nose and relieve congestion. They are available as nasal sprays and can be directly used in the nose.

Just like decongestants, these cannot be used for a long time. Long Term usage is harmful and can show the following side effects in patients,

  • A burning sensation in the nose
  • Redness and swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Dryness
  • Nose bleeds
  • An unpleasant taste in the tongue
  • Irritation of the throat

Intranasal corticosteroids can be used as a short-term medication. But we are not recommending it as a long-term drug. Although it is a type of decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety but can create other severe side effects.

What is the best decongestant for kids?

The worst sufferers of allergies are kids. At least adults can agree to stay indoors during allergy season, but kids, on the other hand, have no patience in staying indoors during spring break. Like many adults, kids also suffer from nasal congestion. So, what are the safest drugs for them? Let’s find out.

The best option is to avoid any kind of decongestant as much as possible. Even the FDA has advised parents to avoid the use of antihistamines for kids under the age of two. These medications often contain ingredients that can be very harmful to children. And if the child accidentally consumes more than the prescribed amount, then there is a high chance of poisoning.

decongestant that doesn't cause anxiety

Without decongestants, there are ways to relieve nasal congestion for kids. Drinking plenty of fluids, using a cool-mist humidifier, and performing nasal suctioning with a syringe are some of the ways. Besides, for severe cases, saline nasal drops, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can be used. But they must be used cautiously after talking to a doctor no matter if you choose a decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety.


Do decongestants cause anxiety?

Yes, some decongestants do cause anxiety. Anxiety is one of the side effects of using nasal decongestants. However, a few decongestants do not cause anxiety, like saline nasal sprays or pseudoephedrine. It is better to consult your doctor before you start any decongestant along with any anxiolytic medication.

What is the safest decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety?

More or less, every decongestant has side effects. But according to several studies, saline nasal drops can effectively reduce congestion, and it does not show severe side effects.

Does phenylephrine make you anxious?

Yes, phenylephrine can make you anxious. It is better to avoid this medication if you have an anxiety disorder. Look for other alternatives and consult with your physician for more advice.

What to do when decongestants don’t work?

In some cases, even decongestants fail to work. In that case, try out natural remedies. Nasal washing and inhaling steam can help with relieving nasal congestion.


We know how annoying stuffy noses are. And people with pre-existing anxiety disorders are at a disadvantage because one of the side effects of decongestants is anxiety. It can trigger patients suffering from anxiousness.

So to help you out, we have selected a decongestant that doesn’t cause anxiety. Well, not only one, but we have added a list of decongestants suitable for patients suffering from anxiety. Decongestants are an effective medication for relieving nasal congestion.

But remember to use it with the utmost care, especially if the patient is a child or has certain health conditions. It is always better to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new medication.

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