Decongestants: I've looked here and elsewhere... - AF Association

AF Association

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11 Replies

I've looked here and elsewhere in the past but been unclear about what I've read. In the last 24 hours I've developed mild cold symptoms which seem to be getting worse. I need to travel in a couple of days and would find that easier if I was able to control the symptoms a little. I have a small amount of paroxysmal AF (controlled mainly with Sotolol) and mild heart failure and a CRT pacemaker. I take Atorvastatin, Sotolol, Sacubutril/Valsartan, Rivaroxaban and Allopurinol. Any ideas for controlling my cold symptoms?

On one occasion in the past I took a Paracetamol / Chlorpheniramine tablet recommended by a pharmacist for someone with my conditions but I had a nightmare night so was not game to try that again - though of course the tablets may not have been the source of my problems. It has made me wary of trusting the advice of a random pharmacist as they don't necessarily know much about our conditions.

I realize that most here are not doctors but would be interested in first hand experiences.

11 Replies
Drounding profile image

I only use paracetemol and Sterimar breathe easy spray (essentially sea water that you can spray into each nostril to help clear congestion). I never wanted to take any other decogestants or Ibuprophen in case they interact with my medications.

TracyAdmin profile image

Hello, If you are considering taking any new supplements or over-the-counter medications, it is worth checking with your doctor prior to taking them, just to make sure they do not interact with the other med's you are currently taking. You doctor has access to your personal medical history and are best to advise you personally. Take care, Tracy

jwsonoma profile image

I'd spend a little time on the internet looking at the side effects of cold medications.I haven't found any decongestants that don't have "rapid heart rate" as a potential side effect. I got kicked into AF taking decongestants before scuba diving while on vacation. It was actually my worst episode and they were few and far between at the time. Now I do with out and just work harder clearing my ears with descent. I suffer through colds. If you find one I would be interested in knowing what it is. Good luck

in reply to jwsonoma

Thanks for your comments @jwsonoma - I recall going through this exercise about 18 months back (before social distancing for Covid became a thing) and came to much the same conclusion. I think I must have been feeling especially low yesterday with the prospect of just suffering through the cold for the next week or so and posted in desperation :-) Feeling a little more level headed today and will just give some of the saline spay ideas a try. I certainly am not game to try Chlorpheniramine as I had one of the worst nights of my life when I took that - it really did not get on with me and must rank as some of the worst advice I have ever received from a pharmacist.

Ppiman profile image

I was told to use only saline spray. I used the nasal wash type kit which really does work well, but only very temporarily. If you haven't used one before, expect to feel a bit worried doing it, but against reasoning you won't drown or choke!

Pharmacists generally do know their stuff and can be trusted with regards to drug advice, I would say. Your reaction to chlorpheniramine was likely an individual one. It is a well tired antihistamine that can work even when there's no allergy as it has the effect of "drying up" the nasal secretions quite effectively in some users. It does nothing for me, sadly. It is one of the older type antihistamines, however, so causes variable amounts of drowsiness and is best used before bed. Some use it as a sleeping tablet, but it can lead to daytime drowsiness, too. The product information sheet is in every pack and is very clear about this risk.

This website is excellent for advice:


in reply to Ppiman

Thanks for those thoughts Steve - the web site link is very useful. Interestingly it mentions Chlorpheniramine as one of the decongestants to avoid so I'll certainly not be going down that road again.

Ppiman profile image
Ppiman in reply to

I hadn’t noticed that. I’ll look again. Sinus troubles are the bane of my life (well - one of!).

tabletphobic profile image

Just a thought but have you tried a steamer or just holding yourself over a bowl of boiling water. Eucalyptus oil could be added to the steamer if it doesn't interact with your medicines.

I'm going to try that this evening tabletphobic - I'm sure I have some Eucalyptus oil somewhere. I sleep with a CPAP machine which I almost always run "dry" as a matter of personal preference (even in the very dry atmosphere of Adelaide) but last night I fired up the CPAP humidifier and found that I got a better night's sleep so maybe I need to revisit some of my habits.

daveboy123 profile image

Hi Justintonation. I get regular problems which usually revolve around the round pollen count. I use menthol crystals, these are obtainable from a number of places including amazon. Hope that you get sorted.


KMRobbo profile image

Since my AFIb ablation 3 years ago I have only taken paracetamol. Too frightened to try anything else, in case I wake the beast! I have actuallly been prescribed two medications for nerve pain owing to bulging discs in my neck and the first I did not collect the prescription note, after googling the possible side effects, and the second , which my GP said was less risky, is still unopened. I decided at this stage the pain was not bad enough to warrant the risk!

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