Background: Systemic and topical nasal decongestant drugs are widely used in otorhinolaryngology and general practice among the Saudi population. They are potent vasoconstrictive agents that are usually used in reducing congestion of nasal and ocular mucous membranes in so many diseases such as allergic rhinitis, acute rhinosinusitis, and conjunctivitis. However, long-term use of these drugs may lead to some side effects, such as rhinitis medicamentosa. This study was aimed to evaluate the awareness of the Saudi population regarding the side effects of nasal decongestant drugs.
Methodology: This is a questionnaire-based cross-sectional study including Saudi adults and excluding health care workers. The questionnaire was developed and distributed online from the period of October and November 2017. The questionnaire assessed demographical data, knowledge on allergic rhinitis, and knowledge on the side effects of decongestants and rhinitis medicamentosa.
Results: A total of 575 participants who fulfill the criteria successfully filled the questionnaires. 60.2% of those were males, 73.2% reside in cities, 89.4% were 40 years and younger, 53.0% were married, and only 30.3% had education level lower than college. 39.3% were able to identify "hereditary as the etiological factor for allergic rhinitis". 68.5% had used nasal decongestants (66.5% had used them with a prescription and 31.5% without a prescription).
Conclusion: Nasal decongestants are considered as one of the most commonly available over the counter medications. It is advised that nasal decongestants should be only available on a prescription basis. Health workers and advocates are recommended to improve patient awareness related to nasal decongestants.
Awareness, Saudi population, nasal decongestants, allergic rhinitis, side effects