The side effects of otrivin

Updated May 10, 2017

Otrivin is a nasal decongestant that is available as a nose drop, a nasal spray and as Otrivin M-D pump. It is the active ingredient in Sudafed. Otrivin takes effect a few minutes after administration and its effect lasts approximately 8 to 10 hours. Do not take Otrivin for more than three to five days to avoid worsening the congestion. Contact your doctor for advice.


Otrivin is used to relief nasal congestion by narrowing the blood vessels in the lining of the nostrils. Otrivin is beneficial in relieving the congestion, stuffiness, pain and discomfort of allergies, ear infections and sinusitis. One of the advantages of Otrivin is that it does not impair the muco-ciliary function of the nostrils (the production of the mucosal lining or the function of the hairlike projections in the nostrils).

Side effects

Some side effects of Otrivin include sneezing, headache and runny nose, along with a burning, stinging, dry sensation in the nostrils. These symptoms are usually temporary and often go away on their own. If the symptoms persist, contact your doctor for advice.

Serious side effects

Some serious side effects of Otrivin include an increase in the stuffiness and congestion of the nose or an increase in the drainage from the nose. In some cases, patients experience a change in vision. If any of these side effects occur, you should consult your doctor.

Allergic reaction

An allergic reaction to Otrivin could occur, typically indicated by hives, itching or a rash, along with swelling of the face, tongue and throat. This is a medical emergency that can be life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Also seek immediate care for seizures, tachycardia (irregular heart beat) or palpitations (fast heart beat).


Inform your doctor if you have any of the following conditions before taking Otrivin: hypertension, glaucoma, diabetes, thyroid problems and liver or kidney disease. It's also important to let your doctor know if you are pregnant, breast feeding or planning on getting pregnant soon.

Drug interaction

Drug interaction with Otrivin is rare; however be aware that the following drugs could cause a drug interaction: Furoxone, Indocin, Aldomet, Thorazine and antidepressants such as Elavil. Inform your doctor of all medications including over-the-counter drugs prior to taking Otrivin.

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About the Author

Norma Chew is a retired registered nurse who has been a freelance writer since 1978. Chew's articles have appeared in the "Journal of the Association of Operating Room Nurses" (AORN), "Point of View Magazine" and "Today's OR Nurse." Chew has a master's degree in health care administration from Nova Southeastern University.