Oxymetazoline vs Phenylephrine – Uses, Side Effects, Differences


It is a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passages. This is helpful since dilated blood vessels can cause nasal congestion.

This drug may be found in some form under the following brand names – Dristan 12-Hour Nasal Spray, Afrin, Monistat Derm, Nasin, Ocuclear, Mucinex Nasal Spray, Oxyfrin, Sinex Long-Acting, Genasal, or Sudafed OM.


It is used for the temporary relief of nasal stuffiness or congestion which is caused by hay fever or other allergies, sinus trouble, or colds.

In addition, it can be used as an ophthalmic agent to reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in the eyes, hence, temporarily reducing their redness.


The usual recommended dose for nasal congestion or stuffiness (adults and children 6 years of age and older) is 2 or 3 sprays in each nostril, two times per day. Do not use more than 2 times in 24 hours.

Children aged 6-12 years should use this medication with adult supervision. You will need to prime the spray if you are using the nasal spray for the first time.

To do this, pump the bottle until some of the solutions sprays out. Also, you need to prime the spray if you have not used it for 5 days or longer.

If symptoms of nasal congestion do not improve within a week or if you also have a high fever, check with your healthcare professional since these symptoms may mean that you have other medical conditions.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • a runny nose;
  • sneezing;
  • stinging of the nose.

Rare side effects may include:

Before taking this drug, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • type 2 diabetes mellitus;
  • hypertension;
  • kidney disease;
  • difficulty urinating;
  • irregular heartbeats;
  • an enlarged prostate;
  • thyroid problems;
  • hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis);
  • liver disease;
  • increased pressure in the eye.

Drug Interactions

Because it could cause a very dangerous drug interaction with serious side effects, do not use this medication if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, like -tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), or isocarboxazid (Marplan) in the last 2 weeks.


It is in a class of medications called nasal decongestants which work by reducing swelling of the blood vessels in the nasal passages.

This drug is available without a prescription and it can be combined with other ingredients in multi-symptom cold products or it can be found in single-ingredient oral nasal decongestant drugs.


It is typically prescribed for:

  • eye procedures;
  • eye conditions;
  • vascular failure in shock;
  • anesthesia support;
  • paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (a type of supraventricular tachycardia characterized by short bursts of rapid heart rate);
  • congestion of the nose, eustachian tubes, and sinus.

Note – this medication relieves symptoms, however, it doesn’t speed recovery or treat the cause of the symptoms.

Side Effects And Precautions Of Phenylephrine Hydrochloride

Common side effects may include:

  • skin rash;
  • insomnia;
  • excitability, particularly in children;
  • redness under the skin;
  • loss of appetite.

Rare side effects may include:

  • difficulty breathing;
  • unusual weakness;
  • dangerously high blood pressure;
  • anxiety;
  • chills;
  • severe dizziness;
  • body aches;
  • swelling of the face, tongue, lips, or throat;
  • easy bruising;
  • pounding heartbeat.

Note – seniors have increased chances to experience side effects from this drug, according to the 2005 Lippincott’s Nursing Drug Guide.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Do not use this drug without a healthcare professional’s advice if you are breastfeeding a baby since it can pass into breast milk and may harm the baby.

Moreover, do not use this drug without a healthcare provider’s advice if you are pregnant because it is not known exactly whether this medication will harm an unborn baby.

Oxymetazoline vs Phenylephrine – Which Is Better?

Oxymetazoline is a drug that is commonly used for the treatment of nasal congestion due to hay fever, colds, sinus infection, upper respiratory tract allergies, or a runny nose.

Phenylephrine is part of a group of medicines called sympathomimetic agents that work by constricting blood vessels. It is typically used to relieve nasal discomfort caused by allergies, colds, and hay fever as well as it can reduce sinus pressure and congestion.

In conclusion, even if these drugs are different, they have similar effects on the human body.

However, the prolonged use of nasal decongestant could induce either rebound nasal hyperreactivity and rhinitis medicamentosa (a condition that develops after using drugs other than topical decongestants).

6 Natural Remedies for Congestion Relief and Stuffy Nose

#1 Eucalyptus Oil

It is produced from the dried leaves of the eucalyptus tree. It has potent decongestant and anti-inflammatory effects.

This essential oil can be used through direct inhalation, topically, in the bath, as a compress, or diffuser.

#2 Steam Inhalation

Steam inhalation is an old technique of relieving sinus pressure without drugs or chemicals since steam can penetrate mucus, thinning it, therefore, making it easier for the body to clear it.

The simplest method to inhale steam is by holding your head over a steaming pot of water and taking in deep breaths. For children, the safest way of steam inhalation is in the bathroom.

#3 Garlic

People who regularly eat raw garlic during the 14-week flu and cold season had fewer colds than people who did not indulge in garlic, according to a 2012 British study.

#4 Steamy Shower

If you have a stuffed nose, run a hot, steamy shower and stay in the bathroom for at least 20 minutes. This will help open up the airways.

#5 Oregano Oil

This oil has long been acknowledged as a natural treatment for lung or sinus congestion because it has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-allergenic properties.

To use it, you just need to mix three drops of oregano essential oil with a juice and drink this combination daily.

#6 Foods Rich In Vitamin C

Histamine is a protein and neurotransmitter in the human body which is often associated with nasal congestion, especially when histamine levels are high.

A regular consumption of food high in vitamin C can help reduce histamine levels.

Good sources of vitamin C include – oranges, lemons, mangoes, papayas, lentils, chickpeas, broccoli, cauliflower, tamarinds, clementines, blueberries, blackberries, onions, cranberries, strawberries, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini, turnips, and cabbage.

Images credit – Shutterstock & Getty

READ THIS NEXT: Flonase vs Claritin



Leave a Comment