Compare Phenylephrine vs. Flonase

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Sudafed Pe
(phenylephrine)

Flonase
(fluticasone)

Clears your sinuses. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a good medication for relieving stuffy nose. It doesn't work as well as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), but it has fewer side effects.Relieves allergy symptoms. Flonase (Fluticasone) is a good first-choice medicine for treating a runny or stuffy nose caused by allergies, and it's cheaper than some alternatives.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.18Phenylephrine
Reviews for Phenylephrine
44%
of people (All ages) say Phenylephrine is worth it
24%
say it works well
10%
say it's a big hassle
164 reviews
Have you used Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Flonase
72%
-28% worse vs. Phenylephrine
43%
-19% worse vs. Phenylephrine
7%
-3% worse vs. Phenylephrine
890 reviews
Have you used Flonase (fluticasone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
PhenylephrineFlonase

We haven’t found good data for Phenylephrine side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Phenylephrine »
  • Asthma symptoms 4%
  • Nosebleed 1%
  • Nausea/vomiting 3%
  • Cough 1%
  • Blood in mucus 2%
  • Bronchitis 2%
  • Abdominal pain 2%
More Flonase side effects »
How it works
PhenylephrineFlonase
Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.Flonase (Fluticasone) is a nasal steroid. It works directly in your nose to reduce swelling and inflammation caused by allergies.
Type of medication
PhenylephrineFlonase
Prescription or OTCPrescription or OTC
Available as
PhenylephrineFlonase
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
  • Nasal spray
Used for
PhenylephrineFlonase
Risk factors for serious side effects
PhenylephrineFlonase
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking MAO inhibitors
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine) risks & warnings »
  • Switching from oral or injectable steroids to inhaled, especially if used long term
  • Using other inhaled steroids with Flonase (Fluticasone)
  • Long-term use
  • Taking more than recommended dose
Detailed Flonase (fluticasone) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Pain
PhenylephrineFlonase
No pain related info.
  • Long-term use of Flonase (Fluticasone) can increase your chances of getting thrush in the nose and throat. Your doctor will check your nose and throat if you have to be on this medication for a long time. Also, tell your doctor if you notice pain in the nose and throat with redness and white patches.
Upsides and benefits
PhenylephrineFlonase
  • Works to clear nasal congestion and helps you breathe better.
  • Helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches.
  • Has fewer side effects than other decongestants like pseudoephedrine.
  • It doesn't raise your blood pressure and heart rate as much, or cause as much trouble falling asleep.
  • Doesn't give you rebound congestion (worse symptoms when you stop taking it) like nasal spray decongestants do.
  • First-choice medication for treating runny and stuffy noses caused by allergies. It works by reducing inflammation in the nose.
  • Because it's used directly where the inflammation is happening, it has fewer side effects than oral steroids do and has a lower chance of causing withdrawal symptoms once the medication is stopped.
  • Can be used as needed to help control symptoms in people age 13 years or older.
  • Available as a generic medication.
Downsides and risks
PhenylephrineFlonase
  • Phenylephrine doesn't last as long as other decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
  • You shouldn't use it if you have high blood pressure.
  • Can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
  • Not as effective after using it for 4 days in a row.
  • Flonase (Fluticasone) doesn't have a counter on it, so it can be hard to remember how many sprays are left (each bottle has 120 sprays).
  • Needs to be primed (pressed/pumped until a fine spray appears) up to six times prior to using it for the first time, or if you haven't used it in 2 weeks.
  • Since the medicine in Flonase (Fluticasone) is a steroid, it can slow down your healing process if you've hurt your nose or had nose surgery.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
PhenylephrineFlonase
  • Starts working in 30 minutes.
  • Phenylephrine can make you restless, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
  • It's in other cold and flu combination medicines. Read labels closely so you don't accidentally double up and take too much of it in a day.
  • Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take.
  • Let your doctor know if your symptoms don't improve in a few days.
  • It can take several days for Flonase (Fluticasone) to start working fully.
  • Don't take more of it than was prescribed for you.
  • Blow your nose before using Flonase (Fluticasone).
  • Can cause thrush (a fungal infection) inside the nose and throat.
  • Can also cause a headache, sore throat, or nosebleeds.
Learn more
More about PhenylephrineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Sudafed Pe (phenylephrine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about FlonaseSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Flonase (fluticasone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it