Decongestant

Packages of medication

Type of pharmaceutical drug that is used to relieve nasal congestion in the upper respiratory tract.

- Decongestant

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Vasoconstriction

Narrowing of the blood vessels resulting from contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels, in particular the large arteries and small arterioles.

Transmission electron micrograph showing vasoconstriction of a microvessel by pericytes and endothelial cells resulting in the deformation of an erythrocyte (E).

Medications that cause vasoconstriction include: antihistamines, decongestants, and stimulants.

Pseudoephedrine

Sympathomimetic drug of the phenethylamine and amphetamine chemical classes.

Two pairs of enantiomers: ephedrine (top) and pseudoephedrine (bottom)
A warning at an Australian pharmacy

It may be used as a nasal/sinus decongestant, as a stimulant, or as a wakefulness-promoting agent in higher doses.

Paranasal sinuses

Paranasal sinuses are a group of four paired air-filled spaces that surround the nasal cavity.

Paranasal sinuses seen in a frontal view
Paranasal sinuses radiograph (occipitofrontal)
Paranasal sinuses radiograph (occipitomental)
Paranasal sinuses radiograph (lateral)
Paranasal sinuses
Illustration depicting sinusitis

These conditions may be treated with drugs such as decongestants, which cause vasoconstriction in the sinuses; reducing inflammation; by traditional techniques of nasal irrigation; or by corticosteroid.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitor

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of drugs that inhibit the activity of one or both monoamine oxidase enzymes: monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) and monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B).

Ribbon diagram of human monoamine oxidase B, from
How RIMAs work and why RIMAs can only minimally increase depression-related neurotransmitters
Skeletal formula of moclobemide, the prototypical RIMA.
Ribbon diagram of a monomer of human MAO-A, with FAD and clorgiline bound, oriented as if attached to the outer membrane of a mitochondrion. From.

While safer than general MAOIs, RIMAs still possess significant and potentially serious drug interactions with many common drugs; in particular, they can cause serotonin syndrome or hypertensive crisis when combined with almost any antidepressant or stimulant, common migraine medications, certain herbs, or most cold medicines (including decongestants, antihistamines, and cough syrup).

Mucus

Slippery aqueous secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes.

Mucous cells of the stomach lining secrete mucus (pink) into the lumen
Illustration depicting the movement of mucus in the respiratory tract
3D render showing accumulated mucus in the airways.
Gastric glands are composed of epithelial cells (B), chief cells (D), and parietal cells (E). The chief and parietal cells produce and secrete mucus (F) to protect the lining of the stomach (C) against the harsh pH of stomach acid. The mucus is basic, while the stomach acid (A) is acidic.

Excess nasal mucus, as with a cold or allergies, due to vascular engorgement associated with vasodilation and increased capillary permeability caused by histamines, may be treated cautiously with decongestant medications.

Methylhexanamine

Methylhexanamine (also known as methylhexamine, 1,3-dimethylamylamine, 1,3-DMAA, dimethylamylamine, and DMAA; trade names Forthane and Geranamine) is an indirect sympathomimetic drug invented and developed by Eli Lilly and Company and marketed as an inhaled nasal decongestant from 1948 until it was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in the 1970s.

Phenylephrine

Phenylephrine is a medication primarily used as a decongestant, to dilate the pupil, to increase blood pressure, and to relieve hemorrhoids.

Phenylpropanolamine

Space filling model of phenylpropanolamine.

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is a sympathomimetic agent which is used as a decongestant and appetite suppressant.

Topical decongestant

Packages of medication

Topical decongestants are decongestants applied directly to the nasal cavity.

Loratadine

Medication used to treat allergies.

An example of a loratadine 10-mg tablet (Rx)

It is also available in combination with pseudoephedrine, a decongestant, known as loratadine/pseudoephedrine.