Afrin is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve nasal congestion caused by the common cold, allergies, or sinus infections. This medication comes in the form of a nasal spray and is used in each nostril twice daily. It works by constricting the blood vessels in the nasal passages and decreasing inflammation. Potential side effects include sneezing and temporary burning or stinging.

What Is Afrin?

Afrin® (oxymetazoline nasal spray) is a non-prescription medication used to temporarily relieve nasal congestion due to the common cold, allergies, or sinus infections or inflammation. It should not be used for more than three days in a row, due to the risk making the congestion worse.
(Click Afrin Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Afrin is manufactured by Schering-Plough HealthCare Products, Inc.

How Does It Work?

The active ingredient in Afrin 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.

When and How to Take Afrin

Some general considerations for those using Afrin include the following:
  • This medication comes in the form of a nasal spray. It is sprayed into each nostril twice daily.
  • Afrin products come in a spray bottle or a pump mist bottle. Some people may prefer one over the other for various reasons.
  • The pump mist products should be shaken well before each use.
  • The pump mist products need to be primed by depressing the pump several times before the first use. The spray bottle products do not need to be primed.
  • Do not tip your head when using these products.
  • In order to prevent spreading infections, do not share Afrin nasal spray with other people.
  • For Afrin to work properly, it must be taken as directed.
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Afrin Nasal Spray

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