Does sertraline cause nasal congestion? (5+ tips that can help)

In this article, we will discuss whether sertraline causes nasal congestion. We will also discuss whether there is any research study that indicates nasal congestion on sertraline and underlying factors that could be at play here. We will also discuss what one should do to relieve nasal congestion.

Does sertraline cause nasal congestion?

Sertraline does not typically cause nasal congestion. It is not considered a common or frequently reported side effect. However, it is listed as a rare side effect associated with this antidepressant (1). 

Runny or stuffy nose or flu-like symptoms, in general, are not expected generally, but people are different and can respond differently to medications. If you think your nasal congestion is linked to sertraline, please reach out to your healthcare provider.

Some people can experience rare side effects. Although it does not significantly affect your health, it could be quite annoying. It is also important to note that this can be quite upsetting for people with breathing difficulties as a stuffy nose can make it more challenging. 

So, monitoring your side effects and reporting them promptly to your provider is the best way to ensure the safe and effective use of sertraline or any other medication for that matter.

What does research suggest?

There is very limited research on nasal congestion caused by sertraline. As discussed earlier, it is not a common side effect and is not something that is frequently reported with this antidepressant. However, research does indicate that serotonin can sometimes trigger nasal congestion or cause a stuffy nose (2). 

One study speculated that serotonin could have a contributing role in allergic rhinitis as it can cause effects somewhat similar to histamine in some cases (2). This can help establish a relationship between sertraline and nasal congestion, as sertraline increases the amount of serotonin. 

It does so by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT), which inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and increases its availability to bind to its respective reception (3,4). This increases overall serotonergic activity. 

However, these theories have not been proven yet and sertraline is not commonly associated with nasal congestion. It is also important to note that people are different and can have different factors contributing to nasal congestion. The antidepressant might not be linked to it at all.

What factors can lead to nasal congestion while taking sertraline?

Several factors can lead to nasal congestion while taking sertraline. These include:

Seasonal allergies/Flu or common cold

Nasal congestion can often be linked to seasonal allergies, the flu, or common colds. Sertraline, as an antidepressant, typically doesn’t directly cause nasal congestion, but individuals may experience it coincidentally with these common conditions.

An underlying infection

Infections, such as sinusitis or respiratory infections, can lead to nasal congestion. Sertraline doesn’t contribute to these infections, but individuals with underlying health issues may be more susceptible to them. Monitoring for symptoms like sinus pain or discoloured nasal discharge is crucial.

Use of other medications

Concurrent use of medications, especially those with potential side effects like dry nasal passages or congestion, can contribute to this symptom. It’s important to inform healthcare providers about all medications that you are currently taking to help determine the root cause.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors, including exposure to irritants like smoke or strong odours, can exacerbate nasal congestion. Sertraline itself is not known to directly cause this symptom, but environmental influences can play a role.

What to do if you’re experiencing nasal congestion while taking sertraline?

If you’re experiencing nasal congestion while taking sertraline and are concerned whether your antidepressant has anything to do with it, please talk to your doctor. 

It is generally not considered a common side effect of sertraline, and nasal congestion could have multiple potential causes. Some people may experience seasonal allergies or a common cold and flu, which could lead to nasal congestion. 

This is something that commonly happens with people and has nothing to do with sertraline. However, if you’re still convinced that sertraline has something to do with it, your doctor is your best health advisor. 

Talk to them about your concerns, and they will help determine the root cause of your nasal congestion and help manage it properly. However, when considering common medications used for nasal congestion, such as pseudoephedrine, it’s essential to discuss them with your doctor (5).

Pseudoephedrine is a nasal decongestant that works by narrowing the blood vessels in the nasal passages, reducing swelling and congestion (5). While these medications can be effective in relieving congestion, it’s important to be cautious about potential interactions with sertraline.

Combining pseudoephedrine or other nasal decongestants with sertraline may lead to additive side effects or interactions. Both medications can affect the cardiovascular system, potentially causing an increase in blood pressure or heart rate (5). 

This is why it is important to discuss the use of these medications along with sertraline with your provider.

Non-pharmacological ways of managing nasal congestion

Some non-pharmacological helpful ways of managing nasal congestion include:

  • Steam inhalation can help relieve nasal congestion by moistening the nasal passages. 
  • Saline nasal sprays or drops can help thin mucus, making it easier to expel and reducing congestion. Regular use, especially before bedtime, can provide relief.
  • Adequate fluid intake helps prevent mucus from thickening, making it easier to expel. Hot beverages like tea or clear broths can also provide additional relief.
  • Using a humidifier in the bedroom or other frequently used areas can add moisture to the air. 
  • Applying a warm compress over the sinuses can help relieve congestion and sinus pressure.
  • Make sure you understand what triggers nasal congestion and stay away from your potential irritants.

As a pharmacist, I always suggest my patients follow these simple tricks to help relieve nasal congestion. These tips can sometimes be more helpful than medications, especially when you are taking an antidepressant which can potentially interact with common cold and flu medications. 


  1. Side effects of sertraline (Oral Route). Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Available from: 
  1. Tønnesen P, Mygind N. Nasal challenge with serotonin and histamine in normal persons. Allergy. 1985 Jul;40(5):350-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.1985.tb00246.x. PMID: 4037256. Available from: 
  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from:
  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from:
  1. Głowacka K, Wiela-Hojeńska A. Pseudoephedrine-Benefits and Risks. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 May 13;22(10):5146. doi: 10.3390/ijms22105146. PMID: 34067981; PMCID: PMC8152226. Available from: 

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