How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Oxymetazoline belongs to a group of medications called decongestants. It is used in a nasal spray for the relief of symptoms of nasal congestion caused by the common cold and allergic disorders such as hayfever, sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), and year-round allergies. It works by narrowing the blood vessels in the lining of the nose. This helps to clear the symptoms of congestion.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each pump bottle contains oxymetazoline 0.05% in solution. Nonmedicinal ingredients: benzalkonium chloride, edetate disodium, monopropylene glycol, purified water, sodium phosphate monobasic monohydrate, and hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide to adjust pH.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended dose of oxymetazoline nasal spray for adults and children over 12 years of age is 2 or 3 sprays into each nostril every 10 to 12 hours, as needed. Do not exceed the recommended dosage on the product label. Rinse the spray tip in hot water after each use.

If your symptoms persist after 3 days of using this medication, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Using this product for longer than 3 days can cause an increase in nasal congestion.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor or pharmacist has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.

It is important to use this medication exactly as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.

Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use this medication if you:

  • are allergic to oxymetazoline or any ingredients of this medication
  • are currently taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine)
  • are sensitive (i.e., experience trouble sleeping, dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, tremor, or abnormal heart rhythms) to other related medications (e.g., epinephrine, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine)
  • have narrow-angle glaucoma
  • have rhinitis sicca (a chronic type of rhinitis with very little or no nasal discharge)

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • burning and stinging of the nose
  • dryness of the nose
  • headache
  • increased nasal discharge
  • sneezing
  • trouble sleeping

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • blurred vision
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • drowsiness
  • high blood pressure
  • nervousness
  • palpitations (heartbeat that is fast, irregular, or pounding)
  • trembling
  • weakness

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of face or throat

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Medical conditions: If you have difficulty urinating because of an enlarged prostate, heart disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, overactive thyroid, advanced hardening of the arteries, or diabetes, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Prolonged or excessive use: Do not use this medication for more than 3 days. Using this medication for longer than 3 days may cause your congestion to worsen when you stop using the medication. Do not use more than the recommended dose. Excessive use can increase the risk of side effects, especially for children.

Spread of infection: Use of this nasal spray by more than one person may cause spread of infection.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if oxymetazoline passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children under 12 years of age.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between oxymetazoline nasal spray and any of the following:

  • MAO inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine)
  • maprotiline
  • tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, nortriptyline, desipramine)

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.