• Shruti GOCHHWAL

How Do Nasal Sprays Work?

As winter has started, most people have sneezing and runny nose. Nasal sprays can help overcome the symptoms and it is important to use it correctly to get the best results.

How To Use A Nasal Spray Correctly?

Nasal sprays are liquid medicine that your nose is sprayed with. As pressurized  canisters and pump bottles nasal is offered in two types. It is important to correct positioning to obtain the right outcomes.

How to Use A Pressurized Canister?

  1. Before using this medicine, gently blow your nose to clear the nasal passages.

  2. Be sure that the canister fits properly in its holder. Shake the canister well before using it.

  3. Keep your head upright. Breathe slowly.

  4. Hold the canister spray in one hand. Close one nostril (the one not receiving the medicine) with your finger. Insert the canister tip into your nose.

  5. Press down on the canister as you begin to breathe in slowly through your nose.

  6. Repeat the steps for the other nostril. If your doctor advises you to use more than one spray, follow the steps.

  7. Make sure that you don’t blow your nose or sneeze just after using the spray.

How to Use a Pump Bottle?

Nasal spray

A pump bottle, Credits: pixabay


Using a pump bottle is also similar to using a canister.

  1. Blow your nose to clear the mucus.

  2. Remove the cap and shake the bottle. Remember to “prime” the pump spray during the first time use of the day. Do this till a fine mist comes out.

  3. Tilt your head forward slightly and breathe out slowly.

  4. Hold the pump bottle with your thumb at the bottom and your index and middle fingers on top. Insert the canister tip in your nose, aiming the tip toward the back of your head. Close the other nostril (that is not receiving the medicine) with your finger.

  5. Squeeze the pump as you begin to breathe in slowly through your nose. Repeat the same procedure for the other nostril.

Do not use the spray for longer than the recommended time and dose.

What Are The Types Of Nasal Sprays For Allergies?

The medications in each of the spray may be different and designed for unique purposes. Your doctor may prescribe a nasal spray based on your medical and drug history. The following are the different types of nasal sprays available.

  1. Steroid sprays

  2. Antihistamine sprays

  3. Decongestant sprays

  4. Anticholinergic sprays

  5. Mast cell inhibitor sprays

Steroid Sprays

The spray of steroids helps to decreased inflammation and to treat symptoms of allergies such as nasal congestion, runny nose, snow and watery eyes.

Some examples of over-the-counter steroid nasal sprays include triamcinolone acetonide (Nasacort) and propionate fluticasone (Flonase). Beclomethasone Beconase), ciclesonide (Zetonna), and mometasone (Nasonex) are other recommended steroid nasal sprays.

To get the long term benefits, it is advisable to use it consistently, at least once or twice a day for several weeks. Rarely, some people may develop a bloody nose when using these sprays.

Antihistamine Sprays

Histamine is a chemical released during allergic reactions that causes allergy symptoms like sneezing, itching, and runny nose.

The commonly prescribed antihistamine sprays include azelastine (Astelin, Astepro) or olopatadine (Patanase).

Some people may experience drowsiness when using antihistamine sprays. If the problems persist, use it in the late evening.

Decongestant Sprays

Decongestant sprays work by shrinking swollen, irritated blood vessels that line the nose. The irritation from these can cause congestion, itching, and sneezing.

The common nasal decongestant sprays that are available over-the-counter include oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Afrin, Sinex) and phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine).

These sprays are designed for short-term use after which they may lose their effect and the situation may turn worse. People with high blood pressure or glaucoma are contraindicated to use these sprays.

4. Anticholinergic Sprays

To help dry up extra mucus in the nose, these medicines work on special receptors in the nose. These sprays aid in treating runny nose related to seasonal allergies.

The only anticholinergic nasal spray that is available based on prescription is ipratropium bromide (Atrovent).These medicines are intended to be used for approximately three weeks when your nasal allergy symptoms are at a higher rate.

5. Mast Cell Inhibitor Sprays

Mast cell inhibitor sprays, as the name suggests block mast cells that produce histamines that mediate allergic reactions.An example of the spray includes cromolyn sodium (Nasal Crom). These sprays can be used once or twice daily. It is advisable to use these sprays one or two weeks before the allergy season starts.

Which Nasal Sprays Are The Best?

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, nasal steroid sprays are the most effective in treating allergy symptoms. As the major symptoms are resolved after using these sprays, they are considered to be the effective ones. Sometimes your doctor may prescribe nasal sprays alone or in combination with oral antihistamines.

Sometimes using the spray can build up a tolerance which is calledthe rebound effect.

Who Should Not Use Nasal Sprays?

Nasal spray

A person checking blood pressure, Credits: pixabay


Some nasal sprays need to be avoided by people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems, and urinary problems.

Decongestants carry the risk of raising the blood pressure and pulse rate. They can make you feel nervous and can make the condition hard to get sleep.

What Are The Side Effects Associated With Nasal Sprays?

A woman feeling drowsy

A woman feeling drowsy, Credits: pixabay


Some of the side effects associated with the use of nasal sprays include nose bleeds, nasal perforations, drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, irritations, headaches, and burning sensations.

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