Astelin vs. afrin

Updated March 21, 2017

Astelin and Afrin are two popular nasal sprays that help with nasal congestion, allergies and other symptoms that prevent someone from breathing properly. Astelin and Afrin may seem similar, but they are designed for different things and should not be used interchangeably.


Astelin is a nasal spray that contains azelastine, which is an antihistamine. Antihistamines block the effects of your body's natural histamines, which increase during an allergic reaction. Astelin can help to prevent an itchy, runny nose, sneezing and other nasal irritation.


Afrin is the brand name for oxymetazoline, which is a decongestant, and it constricts the blood vessels in your nose, allowing it to drain more easily, resulting in less congestion. Afrin can be used to treat nasal congestion from the common cold, allergies and sinus irritation.


Both Astelin and Afrin come with a few warnings, and they should be taken seriously to avoid any damage from use. The medication that Astelin contains can make you sleepy and drowsy, so you should not drive a car, operate heavy machinery or drink alcohol to keep yourself safe during use. Afrin should not be used for more than three to five days, as your body can become dependent on it, and you could have trouble breathing, even if the medical problem causing congestion has disappeared.

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About the Author

Charissa Mennell has been a professional writer/editor since 2006, with a background in psychology, medicine and law. She has edited several books, including Cover Girls and Kindred, published by Blade Publishing.