Compare Phenylephrine vs. Nasacort AQ

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

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Sudafed Pe

Nasacort Aq

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. Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is the only medication in its class available over the counter for treating stuffy and runny nose due to allergies. You have to use it every day for it to work.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
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Reviews for Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
of people say Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is worth it
say it works well
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)
+23% vs. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
+16% vs. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
Same vs. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
Side effects

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

FDA side effect reports for Phenylephrine »
  • Sore throat 2%
  • Cough increased 2%
  • Tooth disorder 2%
  • Headache 2%
  • Throat pain 2%
  • Diarrhea 2%
  • Bronchitis 2%
  • Indigestion 2%
  • Flu syndrome 2%
  • Common cold 1%
More Nasacort AQ side effects »
How it works
Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is a nasal steroid. It works directly in your nose to help reduce swelling and inflammation from allergies.
Type of medication
DecongestantPrescription or OTC
Prescription or OTC
Available as
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
  • Nasal spray
Used for (click to learn more)
Risk factors for serious side effects
  • 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 »
  • Long-term use
  • Surgery or trauma to the nose or sinuses
  • Exposure to immunizable diseases (chickenpox and measles)
  • Exposure to tuberculosis
  • Long-term use
  • Switching from oral or injectable steroids to inhaled, especially if used long term
  • Using other inhaled steroids with Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)
  • Long-term use
  • Taking more than recommended dose
Detailed Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
No specific sleep-related info.
No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
  • 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.
  • Available over the counter without a prescription.
  • 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.
Downsides and risks
  • 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.
  • Can't be used on as-needed basis. Must be taken every day.
  • Doesn't have a counter on it, so it can be hard to remember how many sprays are left.
  • Since the medicine in Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is a steroid, it can slow down your healing process if you've hurt your nose or had nose surgery.
  • Needs to be primed before use and re-primed if not used for more than 2 weeks.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
  • 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.
  • Use Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) once a day, following age-specific recommendations on how many sprays to use. Don't take more than prescribed.
  • Blow your nose before using.
  • Can cause thrush (a fungal infection) inside the nose and throat.
  • Can also cause nosebleeds, a sore throat, and headaches.
  • Needs to be used regularly during allergy season for it to work. It can take 1 to 2 weeks for the medicine to start working fully.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist on how to use the nasal spray the right way.
  • Shake well before using it. Before the first use, prime the bottle by spraying it until you see a fine mist.
Learn more
More about PhenylephrineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about Nasacort AQSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert