Allergies Home > What Is Oxymetazoline Nasal Spray Used For?

Oxymetazoline nasal spray is primarily used for treating nasal congestion caused by upper respiratory allergies, the common cold, or sinus infections. On occasion, a healthcare provider may recommend the medication to treat other conditions it is not approved to treat. Some of these "off-label" oxymetazoline nasal spray uses include treating ear infections and nosebleeds.

Oxymetazoline Nasal Spray Uses

Oxymetazoline nasal spray (Afrin®, Nostrilla®, Sudafed OM™, and many others) is a non-prescription decongestant nasal spray. While many people find the medication to be quite effective, it should be used for no more than three days at a time, or the congestion may actually get worse.
Oxymetazoline nasal spray can help relieve nasal congestion due to:
As previously mentioned, it is important to limit the use of oxymetazoline nasal spray to no more than three days in a row. The nasal passages become accustomed to the effects of the drug, and you may find that you must continue to use this nasal spray just to keep the congestion away, even though the original problem (such as a cold) has long resolved (see Afrin Addiction for more information).

How Does the Medication Work?

The active ingredient in oxymetazoline nasal spray is part of a group of drugs called decongestants. Specifically, it works by stimulating certain receptors known as alpha-adrenergic receptors. In the lining of the nasal passages, this action causes the blood vessels to constrict, allowing less fluid to leave the blood vessels and decreasing inflammation. This helps to relieve nasal congestion.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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