Q. I have read that using decongestant nasal sprays can be addictive. What are your views on using oral OTC cold remedies for more than seven days? Will these cause any symptoms when I stop?

A. There is considerable controversy about the effectiveness of the readily available oral decongestant phenylephrine (Annals of Pharmacotherapy, March, 2007). Such drugs seem less likely to cause rebound nasal congestion, but they may raise blood pressure in susceptible individuals. Since there is doubt about their benefit, we generally don’t recommend them.

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