3 types of nasal sprays over the counter

Published at: 21.01.2022 12:54

Nasal sprays can be non-prescribed (over the counter) or prescribed by a doctor. Always consult your doctor or a specialist, because they will guide you properly. When most people hear nasal spray they imagine small plastic bottles and liquid that are sprayed directly in their noses whenever they need. Some people are associating nasal sprays with stuffy noses or seasonal allergies. Others are using saline solutions as sprays just to clean their noses. So far on the market, there are several different types of non-prescribed nasal sprays for common use. They are nasal cromolyn; saline nasal spray; sodium chloride; nasal antihistamine spray; Atrovent; nasal decongestants; nasal steroid/corticosteroid; etc.

Now let’s take a deeper look at some of them:

Nasal Decongestant Sprays :

They are used very often and easily found over the counter. They relieve the nose from congestion and drainage very quickly. Usually, it takes about 10 minutes to feel relief. Decongestant sprays are appropriate for short-term use. People can use them non-prescribed or after consulting a doctor, for several days when they have flu or a cold, or an allergy flare-up.

But you have to keep in mind that it is not safe to use those kinds of sprays for the long term, especially if they were non-prescribed. There are even warning signs on the bottles that advise not to use the product for more than five days. Those warnings are there for a reason. The issue with these sprays is that they can lead to addiction. The reason is that they decongest well and provide quick effects. Still, be careful – using them for too long can cause damage to the lining inside the nose. Also, the longer the usage, the much lesser the effect will be. In fact, at some point, the spray will simply stop working and you will end up with damaged tissue and a stuffy nose.

Steroid nasal sprays:

Steroids a.k.a corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medicines used to treat a range of conditions. Some brands can be easily bought as they are non-prescribed. Often used as a therapy for allergies as they decrease nasal passages inflammation. In fact, in cases of runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, severe or persistent allergic rhinitis – they are the first choice of treatment.

There is a huge variety of these sprays over the counter (non-prescribed). If they are used carefully or as it is pointed at the medical leaflet, it should not cause dependency or a rebound effect. Steroid nasal sprays work on the nasal lining. Do not worry if you swallow small amounts. Doctors explain that most of it are metabolized by the liver. Still use it wisely and follow the instructions. Have in mind that to work properly, these medications have to be used every day for a few weeks. Sometimes people try them for a week only or do not intake them regularly – in those cases, the medication is unlikely to work.

Also, be aware of steroids' side effects – visit your doctor if you notice something unusual. Luckily the risks are much lower in the nasal form. Always consult with your physician before starting any medication.

Saline nasal sprays:

These are the third type of non-prescription nasal sprays for common use. Although they are unlikely to help with nasal congestion, they are good for moistening the nose. Also are good for children, pregnant women, and people who have epistaxis. They are an effective and safe option for long-term comforting symptoms of chronic sinusitis; allergies; reducing the incidence of dryness-induced nosebleeds; irrigating and moisturizing nasal membranes after nasal surgery, etc.

Those types of sprays rinse, using salt solutions to flush out the nasal cavity. It might help relieve nasal congestion. However, as there is a risk of contamination when using saline sprays, it is of major importance to follow the product care and usage instructions.

Here are some tips for using safely saline sprays and rinses, they are actually valid and for most commonly used sprays.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on care and replacement of the bottle. Also, keep the rinse bottle clean and dry between uses. Use cooled boiled tap water to dissolve the premixed salt sachet. This is necessary to avoid possible contamination. Do not share the bottle you are using with other people. There are so many reasons to use a nasal spray, but remember – always consult your doctor or pharmacist. Also, keep the original package and leaflet in case you need them.


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