Senior Health Tips for the Winter Season: Decongestants and Alternatives

Winter is really here, with cooler weather and risk of respiratory infections. Choosing a good decongestant is, for many seniors, one of the first health purchases of the winter season. Senior health tips for the winter season abound, as every person wants to go through the winter in good health. Curing infectious disease often becomes a more important topic in the winter months.


The changing temperatures as summer glides into autumn and autumn rolls into winter, bequeaths the common cold unto many seniors. We could try to discuss the common cold in poetic terms, yet it remains resolutely unpoetic in nature.

The medical term for that common winter infection is ‘Rhinitis’.


Decongestants can be used for relief of the symptoms. The cause of the symptoms could be either “non-allergic rhinitis” or “allergic rhinitis”, and, therefore the cures are also different.



Rhinitis means ‘inflammation in the nose’.

The Symptoms of Rhinitis are:


  • Inflammation or swelling of the mucous skin that lines the nose.
  • A feeling of stuffiness in the nose.
  • A runny nose.
  • Sneezing


The cause is usually the common cold. The immune system has to get active to cure the symptoms, which may have been caused by a viral infection.


Sometimes a cold can go away by itself. A senior adult would be wise to to help it cure, and hopefully not return. This can be done by using nasal decongestants or alternatives, to ease the stuffy nose.


Blowing the nose will help to clear the stuffy feeling. Senior health tips for the winter season include the reminder to throw away the used tissues, to prevent spread of the condition.

Note: Early treatment of a cold can often prevent it developing into a more complicated condition.


Allergic Rhinitis

The cause of Allergic Rhinitis is through environmental triggers to the immune system. These may be dust, pollen, mold, plants or animals that cause an allergic reaction. This condition is also known as Hay Fever or a Seasonal Allergy. We might think that allergic rhinitis is confined to spring and summer, but that is not necessarily the case. A person can be affected by allergic rhinitis in the winter too.

Allergic Rhinitis Symptoms include:

  • Usually the same symptoms as the common cold
  • Itchiness in the nose


Relief for Allergic Rhinitis comes mainly through corticosteroid medications that are applied inside the nose.




Decongestants work by narrowing the blood vessels a little. That helps with the inflamed feeling. It reduces the actual congestion in the nasal passages.


  • Usually come in nasal spray or pill form.
  • It is recommended that they used by day, as they can keep the user awake.
  • Decongestants can be purchased over the counter or be prescribed.
  • Side effects of decongestants can include: dizziness, headaches and a dry mouth.
  • There is a use-limit of up to 3 days in a row (AAFP recommendation).
  • For allergic rhinitis use antihistamines. You can find decongestants that include ingredients, that are helpful for both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis.



Alternatives to Decongestants – More Senior Health Tips for The Winter Season

Since the side effects of using certain decongestants include high blood pressure and raised heart rate, the senior population might prefer using alternative treatments.


Healthline’s suggestions include:

  • Using a humidifier
  • Breath in warm steam while you shower.
  • Drinking sufficiently (This is important for many aspects of health summer and winter!)
  • Saline nasal sprays are good for night time use and restore moisture to dry nasal passages.
  • Drain out the nasal passages using a drip-system ‘neti pot’.
  • Using a warm compress on the forehead.


We hope that you enjoyed reading these senior health tips for the winter season. Have a healthy winter!


senior health tips for the winter season - stay warm and use desongestants

Senior health tips for the winter season: Stay warm and use desongestants or alternatives to clear away a cold.


Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash