Otrivin is composed of oxymetazoline, an agent that constricts (narrows) the blood vessels thus reducing blood flow and eventually relieving congestion and swelling of the nasal mucosa (the inner lining of the nose) that occurs during cold or severe allergy. The effect of the drug is about 8-12 hours, after which the blood flow to the treated area goes back to its prior state with blood vessel dilation (widening) that sometimes is even more exaggerated than it was prior to the application of the medication. This phenomenon is known as rebound congestion, and it gets aggravated with more prolonged use to the extent that there will be dependency on Otrivin to keep the nares patent. Other serious sides effects of Otrivin include severe dryness of the nasal mucosa with eventual mucosal atrophy (dead tissue) with chronic use, and increase in systemic blood pressure.
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