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There are certain medications that can be used to control airway secretions, which refers to the mucus secreted by the respiratory tract epithelium.
These medications are typically used when the airway secretions are either too much or too thick to be coughed out normally. They can broadly be divided into 4 classes; nasal decongestants, expectorants, mucolytics, and antitussives.
The most commonly used nasal decongestants include sympathomimetic medications like oxymetazoline and pseudoephedrine, and corticosteroids like fluticasone and mometasone; and can be administered orally or intranasally.
Nasal decongestants are usually used to treat a congested, or stuffy, nose, such as from allergic rhinitis. They act by constricting the blood vessels in the nasal mucosa, which ultimately reduces the local tissue edema and shrinks the congested mucosa; while corticosteroids also help decrease inflammation.
Nasal decongestants can lead to side effects like anxiety, tremors, insomnia, hypertension, and increased blood glucose. Prolonged use of decongestants, typically for more than 48 hours, may lead to rebound nasal congestion once the decongestant is stopped.
Additional side effects specific to corticosteroid nasal decongestants include a bad taste after administration, and dryness of the nasal mucosa following continuous use.
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