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AFC Experts Offer Alternatives Amid FDA’s Decongestant Shakeup

As a prominent care provider of accessible primary care, urgent care, and occupational medicine services nationwide, American Family Care (AFC) is uniquely positioned to guide and educate the public on pertinent health issues, such as the FDA’s recent decisions on the effectiveness of oral phenylephrine. 


The FDA held a Non-Prescription Drug Advisory Committee meeting on September 11-12, 2023, to deliberate on the effectiveness of oral phenylephrine as an active ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products. These products are designed to temporarily relieve congestion, either as single-ingredient formulations or in combination with other components.


The advisory committee, comprising experts in the field, discussed new data focused on the effectiveness of oral phenylephrine. After extensive discussions and analysis, the committee concluded that the current scientific data does not support the assertion that the recommended dosage of orally administered phenylephrine effectively serves as a nasal decongestant. 


The advisory committee’s primary purpose is to provide independent expert advice to the FDA on a particular topic, but the FDA will decide on phenylephrine. It is important to note that neither the FDA nor the committee raised concerns about the safety of oral phenylephrine at the recommended dose. 


The advisory committee’s discussion and recommendations about efficacy are specific to oral phenylephrine products and not other dosage forms of phenylephrine, such as nasal sprays.

In this blog post, we delve into a range of safe and natural alternatives to oral phenylephrine – which can also be used as allergy treatments – endorsed by AFC emergency care experts.

Natural Alternatives for Nasal Congestion


With the recent FDA information released regarding the ineffectiveness of oral phenylephrine, individuals in search of relief from nasal congestion are in need of alternative solutions. Thankfully, AFC’s urgent and walk-in care experts are here to provide a range of safe and effective natural remedies that can help you breathe easier without relying on OTC decongestants.

Humidifiers: Adding Moisture to the Air


Humidifiers are household devices designed to increase the humidity or moisture level in the air. The increased humidity provided by humidifiers can bring a patient much-needed relief from nasal congestion. When the air is dry, nasal passages can become irritated and inflamed, leading to discomfort.


The use of a humidifier may help hydrate mucous membranes and reduce inflammation.  By providing the moisture your nasal passages need, these devices offer a simple and effective way to break up mucus and relieve discomfort from nasal congestion. The use of a humidifier is particularly useful in dry climates or during the cold season. 

Steam Therapy: Comfort and Relief


Steam therapy can help soothe and open the nasal passages, relieving nasal congestion. When you inhale steam, the warm, moist air can help clear the nasal passages by loosening the mucus in the nasal passages. This may relieve symptoms of inflamed nasal passages. 

The beauty of steam therapy lies in its accessibility and convenience – it’s a home-based remedy that doesn’t require any special equipment. 

Saline Nasal Sprays: A Gentle Approach


Saline nasal sprays offer a gentle yet effective method for managing nasal congestion. Saline nasal sprays are simple and safe solutions to moisturize and clear your nasal passages. They contain a saltwater solution that mimics the natural saline balance in your body.


One of the primary advantages of saline nasal sprays is their non-addictive nature. Unlike some decongestant sprays, which can lead to a rebound effect, saline sprays do not create dependency. This means you can use them regularly without risking congestion worsening over time.

Neti Pots: Effective Nasal Irrigation


Neti Pots, which are small teapot-like vessels, have been used for centuries in various cultures to maintain nasal health. They are specifically designed for the purpose of rinsing the nasal passages with a saline solution. This time-tested practice has gained popularity for its effectiveness in relieving nasal congestion and other nasal discomforts.


Neti Pots work by irrigating the nasal passages and flushing out excess mucus, allergens, and irritants. This process effectively clears nasal congestion, making it easier to breathe. It particularly benefits individuals experiencing congestion due to allergies or environmental factors.


It is important to use distilled water to prevent infection from tap water that is not clean. If using tap water, the water should be boiled and cooled prior to use. 

Warm Compress: Soothing Relief


When dealing with nasal congestion, finding comfort and relief is essential. One natural and soothing solution that can help ease symptoms of nasal congestion and improve breathing by opening the nasal passages is using a warm compress.


Warm compresses are a simple yet effective method for providing comfort during periods of congestion. The warmth from a warm compress can provide comfort from pain and help relieve inflammation in the nostrils. 


Applying a warm compress is a straightforward process, and it’s something you can easily do at home. You don’t need any special equipment. All that is required is a clean, warm cloth or towel. This makes warm compresses accessible to anyone seeking relief from congestion.

Herbs and Spices: Natural Remedies from the Kitchen


Effective remedies for congestion can be found right in your kitchen. Herbs and spices like peppers, ginger, and garlic offer natural solutions that can help open up nasal passages and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.


  • Peppers: Spicy peppers, such as chili or cayenne, can relieve congestion by opening up nasal passages. This effect is primarily due to capsaicin, a compound in these peppers. Capsaicin can temporarily relieve nasal discomfort, making it easier to breathe.


  • Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. When used in various forms, such as freshly grated or ginger tea, it can help reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, facilitating better breathing.


  • Garlic: Garlic is a popular ingredient used in cooking with immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help alleviate congestion and may offer relief from common cold symptoms.


Including these herbs and spices in your daily meals is a practical way to harness their congestion-relieving benefits. For example, adding a pinch of chili peppers to soups, brewing ginger tea, or incorporating garlic into your dishes can not only enhance the flavor but also open up your nasal passages and promote overall wellness.

Turn to Your AFC Urgent Care Location Experts


Navigating nasal congestion and finding the right relief can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. American Family Care (AFC) is here to provide expert guidance and support for all your urgent care needs, including congestion management.


AFC’s professionals understand that one size doesn’t fit all in healthcare. Offering pediatric and adult care, our providers take an individualized approach, considering our patients’ unique health needs and preferences. Whether you seek guidance on natural remedies, OTC solutions, or other medical interventions, our staff can tailor a care plan to your requirements.


With numerous AFC clinics located across the nation, we provide accessible primary, urgent, and walk-in care, as well as occupational medicine. This means you can easily connect with one of our experts and receive the care you need, whether at home or on the go.


Don’t let nasal congestion keep you from living life to the fullest. Take the first step towards comfort and relief by contacting your nearest AFC location today.


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