Do nasal sprays or oral decongestants work better?

Your nose is congested, your head is pounding; you want relief and you want it now. Do you reach for a nasal spray or drops or go with an oral decongestant, such as pseudoephedrine, better known as Sudafed?

The medical experts at Consumer Reports say sprays and drops will open you up more quickly -- since they're a topical treatment -- and they cause fewer side effects.

Consumer Reports has some dos and don'ts you should remember:

Don't use an over-the-counter nasal spray or drops for more than three days in a row. That can make things worse. It a condition called "rebound congestion" -- severe blockage of the nasal passages when the medication wears off.

Don't take an oral decongestant and a nasal spray at the same time. By upping the dosage, you increase the risk of side effects. If you still have symptoms after three days on the sprays, you might want to switch to an oral decongestant for a few days.

Do check with your doctor before taking a decongestant -- even a spray -- if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease or an enlarged prostate.

For more information

Can I take a decongestant pill and nasal spray at the same time?