Decongestant nose sprays can quickly open congested nasal passages caused by colds, allergies, or sinus infections. I think of these sprays as a “quick-fix” when I am miserably congested, especially when trying to fall asleep. Decongestant nose sprays are only for short-term use, though, as there is a “rebound effect” that begins after two or three days of use.
While generally reserved for older children, there are two circumstances that I have used these sprays or drops in children younger than two. First, I rarely use them in infants that are too congested to eat or sleep – this should only be done with the advice of a physician. Second, stubborn nosebleeds can quickly be stopped with 2 or 3 sprays in the bleeding nostril.
All the major brands (Afrin, Neo-Sinephrine, etc) and generic store brands come in two basic forms:
- 12-hour Oxymetazoline 0.05% – for age 6 years and up (Afrin 12 hour, Neo- Synephrine 12 hour)
- 4-hour Phenylephrine – This comes in different strengths:
- 0.125% – for age 2-6 years (Little Noses Pediatric Formula)
- 0.25% – for age 6 to 12 years (Neo-Synephrine Mild Formula, Afrin Children’s Pump Mist)
- 0.5% and 1% – for age 12 and up (Neo-Synephrine Regular or Extra Strength, Afrin Allergy)
When I give my children cold medications, I have found that the nasal passages can become too dry, that’s why it is important to use saline nasal spray throughout the day and a humidifier in the bedroom at night (see “natural cold treatments”).
Use cautiously under two years of age. Possible rare side effects are headache, upset stomach and dizziness. If your child has a history of seizures, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease or is taking medications for any of these conditions, consult your doctor before taking this medication. Do not use this medication for more than three days.
two or three sprays as directed on package. Do not use for more than three days.