Nasal sprays are a popular medication option for many patients with allergies, congestion and other nasal symptoms. While this medication can work well to alleviate allergy irritation, nasal sprays are only as effective as their administration. To help you get the most relief from your spray, we’ve compiled this list of dos, don’ts and “you should knows” for proper nasal spray use.
How Nasal Sprays Work
Nasal sprays deliver a fine mist of medication directly to the nasal lining. This medicine (typically a steroid or antihistamine) reduces the body’s immune response to allergens or irritants in the nose. These sprays are easy to use and can provide targeted relief for various nasal allergy symptoms, including congestion, inflammation, sneezing and more.
Tips and Tricks for Using Nasal Sprays
While nasal sprays can be highly effective, they can also be challenging to use effectively. To properly administer your nasal sprays properly, follow these helpful tips:
- Prime your nasal spray with test sprays before the first use and shake well prior to every use.
- Lightly blow your nose (if needed) before using your nasal spray. This helps to clear out any excess mucus or debris in the nasal passages, increasing the medication’s effectiveness.
- Place just the nasal spray applicator tip into the nostril. Some people find it helpful to rest the bottom of the applicator on the upper lip to help with positioning.
- Angle the applicator tip toward the outer wall of the nose and away from the septum (cartilage in the center of the nose). Some people find that using the right hand for the left nostril and the left hand for the right nostril (crisscross) helps achieve the correct angle.
- Keep your head positioned in a normal orientation when using your nasal spray. You may tuck your chin toward your chest or use a “nose to toes” head-hanging position as well.
- When using a nasal spray, a small sniff to keep the medicine in your nose is all that is needed. Holding the opposite nostril closed with your finger when you sniff might be helpful.
- Apply one spray into each side of the nose, sniff, and repeat if additional dosing is needed or recommended.
In addition, there are also practices to avoid when using nasal sprays. These include the following:
- Inserting the entire nasal spray applicator into the nose.
- Angling the nasal spray toward the septum.
- Sniffing too hard, tilting your head back, or lying down immediately afterward. These techniques will all cause the medicine to drain down the back of your throat, reducing its effectiveness.
- Blowing your nose immediately after using your nasal spray.
- Don’t share nasal sprays between family members.
Types of Nasal Sprays
There are various nasal sprays, each with its unique purpose. The most common types include saline sprays, decongestant sprays and steroid sprays.
Saline sprays moisten the nasal passages and help clear mucus from the nose. They’re often used to relieve nasal dryness and help with congestion caused by colds or allergies.
Decongestant nasal sprays, such as Afrin or oxymetazoline, relieve nasal congestion caused by allergies, colds or other nasal conditions. They work by narrowing blood vessels in the nasal passages, which reduces swelling and congestion. These sprays should not be used for more than 3-5 days. Always speak with your doctor regarding decongestant sprays’ use and proper administration.
Steroid nasal sprays inhibit the release of inflammatory substances in the body, which can reduce congestion, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Popular steroid spray brands include Flonase, Nasacort, Nasonex, Rhinocort, Qnasl and Xhance.
Anti-histamine nasal sprays work locally in the nose to block the effects of histamine, reducing sneezing, congestion, itchy and runny nose. These include brands such as Astepro, Astelin and Patanase. There are also nasal sprays that combine a nasal steroid with a nasal anti-histamine (Dymista, Ryaltris).
If multiple nasal sprays are being used around the same time, please use them in the following order:
- Nasal saline sprays, mists, gels or irrigations
- Afrin/oxymetazoline – should be used very rarely for a few days on an as-needed basis and only if recommended by your allergist
- Steroid nasal sprays
- Other nasal sprays can come in any order from this point forward
Find clarity with Charleston Allergy and Asthma!
As a Lowcountry leader in allergy relief, Charleston Allergy and Asthma is always ready to help you find relief. Our skilled team of board-certified allergists is prepared to guide you along your allergy journey. Contact us today if you are experiencing food or seasonal allergy symptoms, skin allergies, asthma, anaphylaxis and more. Visit our website to explore our full-service list and schedule your allergy appointment.