Otolaryngologist Flávia Gomes says that decongestants are only prescribed for specific cases.
| Photo: Kadidja Fernandes / AT
Nasal decongestants are a part of everyday life for many Brazilians, especially those who suffer from sinusitis, rhinitis, and other common allergies.
Although the drug appears to be a harmless solution to cleaning the nose, doctors warn that indiscriminate use can lead to various health complications, such as tachycardia, increased blood pressure and even stroke.
Christian Helmer, president of the Society of Otolaryngology, Cervical and Facial Surgery of Espiritu Santo (Asorles), explains how a decongestant works in the nostril area.
“The initial action is vasoconstriction, that is, it reduces the size of the nasal passages. It ‘sloughs the flesh of the nose’ making it easier to breathe.”
However, after this initial procedure, nasal structures known as turbinates swell again and cause a “rebound” effect, according to Helmer.
“The corneas are increasing in size again. With continued use, the nose gets blocked up faster and faster, leading to more frequent use and at shorter intervals to relieve symptoms,” he explained.
According to otolaryngologist Flávia Gomes de Freitas, this indiscriminate use of the drug can lead to a series of health problems, especially cardiovascular risks.
The decongestant is easily absorbed by the nasal mucosa. He warned that continued use leads to injuries to this structure and opens the door to problems such as tachycardia, high blood pressure and even stroke.
The doctor says that decongestants are only prescribed in specific cases. “We recommend nasal use in the postoperative period, for 5 to 7 days, or when congestion is excessive, but never beyond ten days of use.”
Otolaryngologist Bruno Kaliman warns of the drug’s other risks. In addition to cardiovascular risks, decongestants cause nasal dryness, loss of smell, medicated rhinitis, crusting of the nose, and perforated nasal septum.
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| Photo: Disclosure
It is sold without a prescription
The Brazilian Association of Otorhinolaryngology, Cervical and Facial Surgery (ABORL-CCF) has issued an alert about the use of nasal decongestants.
The main problems are addiction, anxiety, intoxication, glaucoma, heart problems such as stroke, tachycardia and high blood pressure, as well as changes in the nervous system.
Another danger of use is the delay in diagnosing the real problem that is causing the stuffy nose.
– Today the product can be found in any pharmacy without the need for a prescription.
Law to force revenue
– What does the proposal say?
Bill (PL) 1478/21, written by Federal Rep. Dr. Zakaria Kleil, defends that nasal decongestants are sold only by prescription.
– From a legal point of view, the draft stipulates that medicines containing substances with a vasoconstrictor effect for nasal use are subject to special sanitary control.
– The rationale of the author of the law is to control excessive self-medication, which can lead to many health risks.
– The project is being finalized and has already been approved by the House Social Security and Family Committees.
– Rapporteur Carmen Zanotto.
– Now, PL is being analyzed by the Commission on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJ).
With the approval of the committees, the bill goes to the Senate without having to go through the plenary session. This does not happen if 52 deputies appeal the decision.
– The bill becomes law with the approval of a majority of voters (simple majority) provided that an absolute majority of the deputies is present in the plenary session (257).
– Projects approved in both chambers (the House of Representatives and the Senate) are sent to the President of the Republic for approval.
– The president has 15 working days to sanction or veto. The veto can be full or partial. All vetoes must be voted on by Congress.
To override the veto, an absolute majority of Representatives (257) and Senators (41) is required.
Source: Câmara de Notícias Agency and experts consulted.
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