Answers to Common Ear, Nose, and Throat Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about ear, nose, and throat health.

What is the difference between prescription nasal sprays and over-the-counter sprays?

There are nasal steroids that are available both by prescription and over-the-counter – such as Nasacort and Flonase – that are recommended to be used for long-term conditions, such as seasonal rhinitis and chronic sinusitis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

These types of sprays help relieve sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose and stuffiness, according to the NIH. It can take a couple weeks of daily use to feel the full benefit of these nasal sprays.

Other over-the-counter nasal sprays, such as Afrin and Neo-Synephrine, work almost immediately, but are only supposed to be used for short-term relief, according to the NIH.

These decongestants reduce nasal swelling and ease discomfort but shouldn’t be used for more than three days, according to the NIH.

They can seem helpful, but when they wear off quickly, patients can become addicted to using them more and more often to find the same relief, according to the NIH.

For more information about the difference between prescription and over-the-counter nasal sprays, talk with your doctor.

Learn more:

Source: Stewart Adam, MD, Premier ENT Associates; Jeffrey Adam, MD, Premier ENT Associates; Laura Tully, MD, Premier ENT Associates

Jeffery S. Adam, MD, FACS

Jeffery S. Adam, MD, FACS

Premier ENT Associates

View Profile