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Decongestants origin persomal vasoconstriction, thereby reducing blood stream to the mucous membranes of the nasal courses and sinus cavities. Nasal decongestants (sympathomimetic amines) inflame the alpha-adrenergic receptors, surrendering vascular constriction of the capillaries among the nasal mucosa. Decongestants are usually adrenergic or sympathomimetic.

Learn environing the uses and nursing heed sketch considerations wanted for resigneds preliminary decongestants in this nursing pharmacology con-over regulate.

Decongestants: General and Stigma Names

Here is a board of schemeatically encountered decongestants, their general calls, and stigma calls:

Classification Generic Name Brand Name
Topical Nasal Decongestants ephedrine Pretz-D
oxymetazoline Afrin, Allerest
phenylephrine Coricidin
tetrahydrozoline Tyzine
xylometazoline Otrivin
Oral Decongestants pseudoephedrine Sudafed, Decofed
Topical steroid nasal decongestants beclomethasone Beclovent
budesonide Pulmicort
dexamethasone Decadron
flunisolide Aerobid
fluticasone Flovent
triamcinolone Azmacort

Disease spotlight: Sinusitis

Sinusitis befalls when the epithelial lining of the sinus cavities becomes inflamed.

  • The unimportant turgescence recurrently origins violent denial due to hurry despite the scourge, which cannot tighten, induced to stopage of the sinus course.
  • The jeopardy of a sinus infection is that, if it is left untreated, microorganisms can ramble up the sinus courses and into brain structure.
  • Symptoms of sinusitis comprise denial, turgescence, and humanity environing the cheek, eyes, or forehead, a stoped nose, frugal consciousness of smell, a sinus muddiness, and a proud clime of 38°C.

What are decongestants?

Decongestants abate the overproduction of secretions by causing persomal vasoconstriction to the preferable respiratory confide.

  • This vasoconstriction transfers to a dowdy of high-flown mucous membranes and tends to known amenable nasal courses, providing succor from the trouble of a stoped nose and promoting drainage of secretions and improved airflow.
  • Topical nasal decongestants, vocal decongestant, and persomal steroid nasal decongestants are classifications of decongestants.

Therapeutic forces of decongestants

The desired forces of decongestants comprise the subjoined:

Topical nasal decongestants

  • Imitate the cheerfuls of the abbiant expressive scheme to origin vasoconstriction, induced to abated edema and inflammation of the nasal membranes.
  • Relieve the trouble of nasal glomeration that accompanies the despicable indifferent, sinusitis, and allergic rhinitis.
  • Dilation of the nares to smooth medical demonstration or to succor the denial and glomeration of otitis instrument.

Oral decongestants

  • Decrease nasal glomeration allied to the despicable indifferent, sinusitis, and allergic rhinitis.
  • Shrink the nasal mucous membrane by racy the alpha-adrenergic receptors in the nasal mucous membranes.
  • This shrinkage remainders in a abate in membrane largeness promoting drainage of the sinuses and suitable airflow.

Topical nasal steroid decongestants

  • The fair means of force of persomal steroids is obscure.
  • Their anti-exasperating force remainders from their ability to fruit a recurrented persomal chattels that stops numerous of the compound reactions lawful for the exasperating reply.


Indications for decongestants comprise:

Topical nasal decongestants

  • Relieves trouble of nasal glomeration associated delay the despicable indifferent, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis.
  • Relieves hurry of otitis instrument.

Oral decongestants

  • Decreases nasal glomeration associated delay the despicable indifferent, allergic rhinitis.
  • Relief of denial and glomeration of otitis instrument.

Topical nasal steroid decongestants

  • Treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis in resigneds who are not obtaining a reply delay other decongestants or preparations.
  • Relieves inflammation subjoined dispersion of nasal polyps.


Topical nasal decongestants

  • Beorigin these garbages are applied persomally, the onslaught of force is approximately proximate and tnear is near befoulment of schemeic cheerfuls.
Route Onset Duration
Topical (nasal offspring) Immediate 4-6h
T 1/2: 0.4 to 0.7 hours | Metabolism: Liver | Excretion: Urine

Oral decongestants

Pseudoephedrine is generally well-mannered-mannered exhausted and reaches peak levels quickly- in 20 to 45 mins.

Route Onset Duration
Oral 30 mins 4-6h
T 1/2: 7 hours | Metabolization: Liver | Excretion: Urine

Topical nasal steroids decongestants

The onslaught of force is not proximate, and these garbages may actually claim up to 1 week to origin any changes.

Route Onset Peak Duration
Topical (nasal offspring) Immediate 10-30min 4-6h
T 1/2: Not generally exhausted schemeically.

Contraindications and Cautions

The subjoined are contraindications and foresights for the use of decongestants:

  • Caution must be used when tnear is lesion or erosion in the mucous membrane that could transfer to schemeic aridity.
  • Caution should too be used in resigneds delay any qualification that command be exacerbated by abbiant spectre.
  • If used during pregnancy or lactation, foresight is advised.
  • Caution should be used in any resigned who has an free contamination, including tuberculosis beorigin schemeic aridity would quarrel delay the exasperating and immune reply.

Adverse cheerfuls

Adverse cheerfuls from the use of decongestants comprise:

  • Rebound glomeration. An irrelevant chattels that accompanies recurrent or prolonged use of the garbage is a recoil glomeration, technically designated rhinitis medicamentosa.
  • Topical nasal decongestants. Irrelevant cheerfuls associated delay persomal decongestants comprise persomal cutting and beaming, which may befall the primary few dates the garbage is used.
  • Oral decongestants. Beorigin this garbage is captured schemeically, irrelevant cheerfuls allied to the sympathomimetic cheerfuls are past mitigated to befall, including feelings of anxiety, tenseness, impatience, tremors, hypertension, arrhythmia, excretion and pallor.
  • Topical nasal steroids decongestants. The most despicable irrelevant cheerfuls are persomal beaming, cutting, thirst of the mucosa, and muddiness.


Interactions implicated in the use of decongestants comprise the subjoined:

  • Cyclopropane or halothane. The use of persomal nasal decongestants is contraimplied delay coetaneous use of cyclopropane or halothane anesthesia beorigin regardful cardiovascular cheerfuls could befall.
  • OTC products. Numerous OTC products, including inincongruous remedies, allergy medications, and flu remedies may inclose pseudoephedrine; preliminary numerous of these products coetaneously can origin regardful irrelevant cheerfuls.
  • Acute contaminations. Beorigin nasal steroids stop the exasperating reply, their use is contraimplied in the closeness of quick contaminations such as Candida albicans contamination, tuberculosis, and any airborne contaminations (e.g., chicken pox, measles) beorigin schemeic aridity would quarrel delay the exasperating and immune replys.

Nursing considerations

The nursing considerations in the government of decongestants comprise the subjoined:

Nursing Assessment

History preliminary and demonstration of a client using decongestants should comprise the subjoined:

  • Assess for feasible foresights and contraindications: any truth of allergy to the garbage or a factor of the garbage vehicle; glaucoma; hypertension; diabetes; thyroid morbidness; coronary morbidness; and prostate bearings; pregnancy and lactation, and quick contaminations, all of which could be exacerbated by the sympathomimetic cheerfuls and which claim cowardly use of the garbage.
  • Perform a material demonstration to institute baseline facts for assessing the chattelsiveness of the garbage and the befallrence of any irrelevant cheerfuls associated delay garbage therapy.
  • Assess peel varnish and clime to assess the abbiant reply.
  • Evaluate orientation and reflexes to evaluate the mediate expressive scheme (CNS) cheerfuls of the garbage.
  • Monitor pulse, class hurry, and cardiac auscultation to assess cardiovascular and sympathomimetic cheerfuls.
  • Evaluate respirations and forced life sounds to assess the chattelsiveness of the garbage and the virtual superfluity chattels.
  • Evaluate nasal mucous membrane to warner for lesions that could transfer to schemeic aridity and to evaluate the decongestant chattels.
  • Monitor urinary output to evaluate for urinary retention.
  • Monitor clime to warner for the possibility of quick contamination.

Nursing Diagnosis and Heed Planning

Nursing diagnoses allied to the use of the garbage comprise:

  • Acute denial allied to GI, CNS, or persomal cheerfuls of the garbage.
  • Disturbed sensory perception (Kinesthetic) allied to CNS cheerfuls.
  • Deficient instruction in-reference-to garbage therapy.
  • Increased cardiac output allied to sympathomimetic forces of the garbage.
  • Risk for impairment allied to the suppression of exasperating reaction.

Nursing Implementation delay Rationale

The nursing interventions for clients using decongestants are:

  • Proper government. Teach the resigned the special government of the garbage to secure the curative chattels.
  • Proper technique. The resigned should be instructed to evident the nasal courses anteriorly use, to tilt the superintend end when applying the drops or offspring, and to suppress it tilted end for a few promotes behind government; this techniques succors to secure apposition delay the forced mucous membranes and abates the befoulments of letting the drops dribble down the end of the throat, which may transfer to past schemeic cheerfuls.
  • Duration of intake. Foresight the resigned not to use the garbage for longer than 5 days and to supervene medical heed if signs and symptoms adnear behind that date to smooth overthrow of underlying medical qualifications that may claim tenor.
  • Avoid overdosage. Foresight the resigned that these garbages are establish in numerous over-the-counter preparations and that heed should be captured not to inadvertently amalgamate garbages delay the identical ingredients, which could transfer to overdose.
  • Safety measures. Provide prophylactic measures if dizziness or sedation befalls as a remainder of garbage therapy to obviate resigned impairment.
  • Comfort measures. Institute other measures to succor succor the trouble of glomeration (e.g., use of a humidifier, extensiond running intake, irresolute environment, pretermission of smoke-filled areas) as misspend.
  • Patient training. Provide drastic resigned training, including the garbage call and prescribed dosage, measures to succor desert irrelevant cheerfuls, premonition signs that may point-out bearings, and the want for interrupted warnering and evaluation, to repair resigned instruction environing garbage therapy and to advance acquiescence.
  • Provide livelihood. Offer livelihood and greeting to succor the resigned vie delay the morbidness and the garbage fare.
  • Enunfailing acquiescence. For persomal nasal steroid decongestants, tolerate the resigned to abide using the garbage constantly, uniform if remainders are not seen proximately, beorigin benefits may siege 2 to 3 weeks to repartee.
  • Monitor for contamination. Warner the resigned for the harvest of quick contamination that would claim medical intervention; tolerate the resigned to desert areas wnear airborne contaminations could be a bearing beorigin steroid use abates the chattelsiveness of the immune and exasperating replys.


Evaluation of a client using decongestants comprise:

  • Monitor resigned reply to the garbage (succor of nasal glomeration).
  • Monitor for irrelevant cheerfuls ( persomal cutting and beaming).
  • Evaluate the chattelsiveness of the training sketch (resigned can call garbage, dosage, irrelevant cheerfuls to halt for, restricted measures to desert them, and measures to siege to exstrain the chattelsiveness of the garbage.
  • Monitor the chattelsiveness of self-approval and prophylactic measures and acquiescence of the fare.

Practice Quiz: Decongestants

Here’s a 5-item sarcasm for this decongestants con-over regulate:

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Practice Quiz: Decongestants

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1. Gab, a 20-year-old tyro, used to buy OTC garbages whenever he feels morbid. Which of the subjoined statements best describes the jeopardy of self-medication delay over-the-counter garbages?

A. Clients are not conscious of the force of over-the-counter garbages
B. Clients are not conscious of the plane cheerfuls of over-the-counter garbages
C. Clients do not gain the cheerfuls of over-the-counter garbages
D. Clients minimize the cheerfuls of over-the-counter garbages beorigin they are serviceable delayout a custom

1. Answer: D. Clients minimize the cheerfuls of over-the-counter garbages beorigin they are serviceable delayout a custom.

  • Option D: This exquisite is reform beorigin it comprises the other three risks glorious in exquisites A, B, and C.

2. Which of the subjoined would be an expected remainder for a client recovering from an preferable respiratory confide contamination? The client conquer:

A. Experience near nasal hinderance and liberate
B. Cough fruitfully delayout chest trouble
C. Experience chills singly unintermittently a day
D. Maintain a running insiege of 800 ml integral 24 hours

2. Answer: A. Experience near nasal hinderance and liberate.

  • Option A: A client recovering from an preferable respiratory contamination (URI) should news decreasing or no nasal liberate and hinderance.
  • Option B: A fruitful cough delay chest denial point-outd pulmonary contamination, not an preferable respiratory contamination (URI).
  • Option C: The clime should be under 100*F (37.8*C) delay no chills or diaphoresis.
  • Option D: Daily running insiege should be extensiond to past than 1 L integral 24 hours to dissolve secretions.

3. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) has been ordered as a nasal decongestant. Which of the subjoined is a feasible plane chattels of this garbage?

A. Diplopia
B. Restlessness
C. Constipation
D. Bradycardia

3. Answer: B. Restlessness.

  • Option B: Side cheerfuls of pseudoephedrine are conversant largely in the cardiovascular scheme and through abbiant cheerfuls on the CNS. The most despicable CNS cheerfuls comprise impatience, dizziness, strain, diffidence, insomnia, and impairment.
  • Options A and C: Constipation and diplopia are not plane cheerfuls of pseudoephedrine.
  • Option D: Tachycardia, not bradycardia, is a plane chattels of pseudoephedrine.

4A client has been preliminary flunisolide (Aerobid), two inhalations a day, for tenor of asthma. He tells the nurse that he has denialful, clear patches in his mouth. Which reply by the nurture would be the most misspend?

A. “You own exposed a fungal contamination from your medication. It conquer want to be bargained delay an antibiotic.”
B. “Be unfailing to glide your teeth and floss daily. Cheerful vocal hygiene conquer bargain this bearing.”
C. “This is an anticipated plane-chattels of your medication. It should go detached in a townsman of weeks.”
D. “You are using your inhaler too fur and it has churlish your perforation.”

4. Answer: A. “You own exposed a fungal contamination from your medication. It conquer want to be bargained delay an antibiotic.”

  • Option A: Use of vocal inhalant corticosteroids, such as flunisolide, can transfer to the harvest of vocal thrush, a fungal contamination.
  • Option B: Although cheerful vocal hygiene can succor obviate the harvest of a fungal contamination, it cannot be used unplain to bargain the bearing.
  • Option C: Once exposed, thrush must be bargained by antibiotic therapy; it conquer not dictate on its own.
  • Option D: Fungal contaminations can eliminate uniform delayout overuse of the Corticosteroid inhaler.

5. A nurture is environing to transfer Albuterol (Ventolin HFA) 2 advertise and Budesonide (Pulmicort Turbohaler) 2 advertise by metered dose inhaler. The nurture is sketchning to transfer it by?

A. Budesonide inhaler primary then the albuterol
B. Albuterol inhaler primary then the budesonide
C. Alternating delay a sole advertise each, starting delay albuterol
D. Alternating delay a sole advertise each, starting delay budesonide

5. Answer: B. Albuterol inhaler primary then the budesonide.

  • Option B: If two incongruous inhaled medications are prescribed and one of the medications incloses a corticosteroid, transfer the bronchodilator (Albuterol) primary and the corticosteroid (Budesonide) promote. This conquer avow for the widening of the air courses by the bronchodilator, making the corticosteroids past chattelsive.

References and Sources

References and sources for this Decongestants Nursing Pharmacology Guide:

  • Karch, A. M., & Karch. (2011). Focus on nursing pharmacology. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. [Link]
  • Katzung, B. G. (2017). Basic and clinical pharmacology. McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Lehne, R. A., Moore, L. A., Crosby, L. J., & Hamilton, D. B. (2004). Pharmacology for nursing heed.
  • Smeltzer, S. C., & Bare, B. G. (1992). Brunner & Suddarth’s textbook of medical-surgical nursing. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott

Here are other nursing pharmacology con-over regulates:

Gastrointestinal Scheme Drugs

Respiratory Scheme Drugs

Endocrine Scheme Drugs

Autonomic Expressive Scheme Drugs

Immune Scheme Drugs

Chemocurative Agents

Refruitful Scheme Drugs

Nervous Scheme Drugs

Cardiovascular Scheme Drugs

Further Lection and External Links

Recommended instrument and regard books. Disclosure: Includes Amazon graft links.

  1. Focus on Nursing Pharmacology - Easy to supervene regulate for Pharmacology
  2. NCLEX-RN Garbage Guide: 300 Medications You Want to Know for the Exam - Great if you're reviewing for the NCLEX
  3. Nursing 2017 Garbage Handbook (Nursing Garbage Handbook) - Reliable nursing garbage handbook!
  4. Lehne's Pharmacology for Nursing Care - Provides key notice on schemeatically used garbages in nursing
  5. Pharmacology and the Nursing Process - Learn how to transfer garbages reformly and safely!
  6. Pharm Phlash Cards!: Pharmacology Flash Cards - Flash Cards for Nursing Pharmacology


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