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What Is the Best Nasal Spray For Allergies?

Finding The Best Saline Spray For Your Symptoms

Dr. Lourdes Mosqueda - Genexa Healthcare Provider & Partner Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Lourdes Mosqueda - Genexa Healthcare Provider & Partner on November 23, 2021

Medically reviewed by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology

Allergies can be uncomfortable, bothersome, and disruptive in your day-to-day life. If you experience seasonal allergies that result in congestion, you might benefit from a nasal spray.

However, there are several different types of nasal spray available which can make it difficult to choose the best one for you. This article will provide you with an overview of allergies and all the information you need to choose the best nasal spray for you.

Allergies Overview

When a harmless foreign substance enters your system and your body falsely identifies it as harmful, you may experience an allergic reaction. These substances can be anything from pet dander to pollen to peanuts.

During an allergic reaction, your body produces antibodies and this response from your immune system can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways, and digestive system. The severity of an allergic response can vary from person to person.

For some people, an allergic reaction might involve a small amount of swelling and itchiness. For other people, allergic reactions can be deadly.

Environmental allergens are substances in the environment that trigger allergic reactions in some people. Usually, these substances include pollen, mold, dust mites, pet dander or saliva, or substances created by pests such as cockroaches.

If you experience environmental allergies every year or for several years at a time as different plants bloom or during different seasons, your allergies are classified as seasonal allergies. It is estimated that 10 to 30 percent of people in the world experience seasonal allergies.

Symptoms

When environmental allergens enter your body, your system will try to flood them out by producing excessive amounts of mucus and other fluids. This process causes several different symptoms.

The signs of an allergic reaction to environmental substances include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itching
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Watery, red, or itchy eyes
  • Swelling
  • Hives or rash

For some people, the congestion caused by allergies can lead to difficulty breathing, headache, and persistent discomfort. If your environmental allergies frequently cause you to be congested, then a nasal spray might help alleviate some of the pressure caused by congestion.

What Types of Nasal Spray For Allergies Are Available?

If you want to try a nasal spray for allergies, you have several different options. This section will take a close look at all of the types of nasal spray available.

Steroid Nasal Sprays

Steroid nasal sprays are beneficial because they can relieve congestion, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and sneezing.

If you experience severe allergies, this is usually the type of spray that will be recommended to you by a doctor or pharmacist. The only downside to this type of nasal spray is that it takes about a week or two to provide maximum relief of symptoms.

Antihistamine Sprays

Antihistamine sprays are also helpful for reducing congestion, sneezing, and relieving the discomfort caused by an itchy or runny nose.

This type of spray must be prescribed by a doctor and is less likely to cause drowsiness than antihistamine allergy pills. That being said, they can still cause some drowsiness, so it can be helpful to test them out before using them as a full-time treatment method.

Nasal Decongestants

Nasal decongestants work by shrinking the swollen blood vessels and tissues in your nose that cause congestion. Usually, these sprays can be bought over the counter and work relatively quickly to relieve congestion.

It is not recommended that you use this kind of nasal spray for more than three days because after this period of time they can worsen your nasal congestion. You should also consider talking to your doctor before using a nasal decongestant spray if you have glaucoma or unregulated high blood pressure.

Cromolyn Sodium

Cromolyn sodium is a type of nasal spray that stops your body from releasing histamines. Histamines are the chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes.

This nasal spray may also help relieve your stuffy nose. To see the best results from this type of nasal spray, you should consider using it one or more times per day for one to two weeks before allergy season. After consistent use, you might feel the effects of cromolyn sodium 30 minutes after you use it. Unlike most antihistamine sprays, this type of nasal spray is available over the counter.

Although cromolyn sodium is generally considered safe for most people, it could be beneficial to talk to your doctor before using it if you experience wheezing from asthma or sinus pain. It is also important to keep in mind that side effects of this type of nasal spray include sneezing and nasal burning.

Ipratropium

Ipratropium is another nasal spray that can relieve a runny nose by stopping the production of mucus in your nose. This type of nasal spray does not relieve congestion or sneezing. Some side effects of ipratropium include headache, nosebleeds, nasal irritation, and a sore throat.

Nasal Saline Spray

If you want to treat your allergies with a drug-free product, you can try a saline nasal spray. Given that these sprays do not contain any medication, they also do not have any serious side effects.

Nasal saline sprays can be helpful for relieving congestion and flushing out any allergens, dust, or pollen that is trapped in your nasal passages and causing an allergic reaction.

Nasal Spray Safety

Nasal sprays are a safe and effective method for treating allergy symptoms. It is important to know what types of nasal sprays are recommended for specific populations and how they interact with different allergy medications.

Nasal Sprays For Children

There are nasal sprays made specifically for children which have been deemed safe to use. Usually, nasal sprays are not recommended for children younger than two. As with any medication for children, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before using any sort of nasal spray on your child. The safest type of nasal spray available is nasal saline spray because it does not contain any medication.

Nasal Sprays During Pregnancy

Beclomethasone and budesonide are steroid nasal sprays considered safe during pregnancy. This type of nasal spray is available both over the counter and as a prescription.

Combining Allergy Pills and Nasal Sprays

If you want to use both allergy pills and a nasal spray at the same time, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist to see how the medications may interact with each other. In some instances, it can be beneficial to use two different forms of allergy treatment at once.

In other instances, medications might interact in a negative way. For example, taking both diphenhydramine, a common antihistamine, and using an antihistamine nasal spray might make you drowsy.

How Do You Use Nasal Sprays?

Generally speaking, you administer most nasal sprays in the same way. It is a good idea to look carefully at the bottle and read the instructions because the administration can vary slightly depending on the spray type and brand.

For the most part, you can use the following instructions when using a nasal spray:

  • Blow your nose to get rid of any mucus that is loose and can be expelled
  • Thoroughly wash your hands
  • Close one nostril with one hand by pressing down on the outside of the nostril
  • Place the tip of the nasal spray in the open nostril
  • Squeeze the nasal spray and inhale at the same time
  • Repeat the spraying process as many times as the bottle advises

If you are having trouble getting the nasal spray into your nose, you can also try tilting your head to the side of the closed nostril.

Conclusion

The answer to the question of what the best type of nasal spray is depends on your specific symptoms and the type of relief you are looking for.

If you have seasonal allergies every year that are often accompanied by intense congestion, then a steroid nasal spray might be best for you.

If you want quick results from your nasal spray, you might want to try cromolyn sodium.

If you are looking for drug-free allergy treatment, then nasal saline spray is a good option for you.

Regardless of the type of nasal spray that you end up using, it is important to remember to follow the directions on the bottle closely when administering the nasal spray.

It is also beneficial to read the label closely when giving a nasal spray to your child or a pregnant woman or when you are using one in conjunction with allergy medication.

As with all medication, if you have any concerns about using a nasal spray, consult your doctor before using it to make sure that it is the best treatment method for you.


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