3.10 Systemic nasal decongestants

NHS England (NHSE) has published new prescribing guidance for various common conditions for which over the counter (OTC) items should not be routinely prescribed in primary care (quick reference guide). These conditions include coughs, colds, and nasal congestion.

Many cough and cold treatments, including pseudoephedrine are cheap to buy and are readily available OTC along with advice from pharmacies. Some self-care medicines are available from shops and supermarkets. Please click here for further information, exceptions, and a patient leaflet.

  • Tablets 60mg (£2.25 = 24 tablets)
  • Oral solutionSF 30mg in 5ml (£1.67 = 100ml)


  • Decongestant


  • 60mg 3–4 times daily
  • Child 6–12 years 30mg 3–4 times daily


  1. Systemic nasal decongestants are of doubtful value but unlike the preparations for local application they do not give rise to rebound nasal congestion.
  2. Sympathomimetics should be avoided in patients with hypertension, hyperthyroidism, coronary heart disease, or diabetes, and in patients taking monoamine-oxidase inhibitors.
Last updated: 04-09-2019


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