Choose Nasal Spray Wisely

Health Minute

Nasal sprays can seem like an easy solution to frustrating congestion and post-nasal drip. But knowing what type of nasal spray is right for you is an important first step.

Before choosing a nasal spray, make a plan to visit your doctor to determine the cause of your congestion. 

Nasal congestion can be caused by a variety of issues, including seasonal allergies, sinus infections, a cold, or the flu. Understanding the problem can help determine whether it is an issue that needs temporary relief or chronic care, according to Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians. 

The various types of nasal sprays available and the safest way to use them, according to PPN physicians and the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP), are:

  • Intranasal antihistamines – These work in a similar way to antihistamines taken by mouth but instead are delivered through a spray into the nasal passages. They offer relief for seasonal rhinitis and allergies and are non-drowsy.
  • Intranasal steroids – This spray works well if you have chronic sinusitis symptoms that are not caused by allergies, including pressure and pain over your sinuses and both anterior and posterior nasal drainage. This spray is safe for long-term use, but it’s important to use it as directed by your doctor. Once inside their nasal passage patients should aim toward the corner of their eye when spraying. If not aimed correctly, over time, the pressure of the spray can perforate the septum.
  • Saline spray – Saline sprays are a good way to moisturize the nasal passages when they dry out, especially during winter months. However, this type of spray also can be used as a decongestant and can be used as long as it’s needed. 
  • Vasoconstrictors – These sprays can be found over-the-counter by names such as Afrin and Neo-Synephrine. While these are good for instant relief of nasal congestion from a cold or infection, patients can be at risk while using them. They can seem helpful because they can clear airways quickly, but they shouldn’t be used for more than three days. Though they provide relief, they can make the nose more stuffed up after you quit using them. This causes a rebound effect for many people, who then have a hard time quitting the use of the spray.

If you are having issues with nasal congestion, start by talking with your doctor before choosing a nasal spray to make sure you have the best kind for your symptoms. And, make sure to follow your physician’s instructions for using any type of nasal spray.

For more information about earaches, talk with your doctor or visit us online to find a physician.