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decongestant is any pharmaceutical used to relieve congestion of the upper respiratory tract (the nose, throat and sinuses).  The two most commonly used are pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine.

Decongestants work by stimulating the effect of adrenaline and norepinephrine.  This encourages blood vessels  to constrict, reducing inflammation and reducing the production of mucous.

However, because their effect is usually not limited to the upper respiratory tract, the use of decongestants can lead to higher blood pressure.  People with existing high blood pressure should only take decongestants on the recommendation of a physician or pharmacist.

Decongestant at Wikipedia

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