Acute nasal symptoms are troublesome for patients. In addition, these symptoms are encountered frequently by individuals because of common infectious diseases, especially rhinovirus, giving rise to a 'common cold'. Acute nasal symptoms include rhinorrhoea, sneezing, nasal itch and congestion. Of these, nasal congestion is the most irritating. Because topical nasal decongestants provide rapid and dramatic relief from these symptoms, especially nasal congestion, they are frequently used and abused by patients. Guidance for indications, choice of most efficacious decongestant and recommendations for limiting side effects are thus essential to be imparted to patients by doctors.