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Nasal spray for allergies

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Nasal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, can cause discomfort and interfere with daily activities. Fortunately, nasal sprays are effective tools for managing allergy symptoms, providing relief from congestion, sneezing, itching, and runny nose. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore who can benefit from allergy nasal sprays, the different types available, potential side effects, and when to use each type.

Drug-free nasal spray options

Nasal lavage or saline nasal sprays reduce nasal congestion and flush away allergens in the nose. Some people love the cleansing action of nasal lavage; for others, the thought of it is simply not for them. They’re a good option if you’re looking for a drug-free remedy or if you’re pregnant.

Steroid nasal sprays

A steroid nasal spray reduces inflammation in the nose, suppressing histamine release and reducing the sensitivity to allergens. It's a good long-term option to help relieve congestion, sneezing, itching, and a runny nose, and you can start it a few weeks before you expect your allergies to start. Allow five to seven days of daily application for it to get to work. You might need other measures alongside such as antihistamine tablets or nasal decongestants if you’re looking for immediate relief, and you need to continue it throughout the allergy season.

Nasal decongestants

Decongestants provide short-term relief from a blocked nose, which might be helpful if you have an important meeting or Zoom call and need relief within minutes, but they shouldn’t be used long term. They don’t reduce the immune overdrive that hay fever brings, but instead, they temporarily shrink blood vessels in the nasal passages that cause a stuffy nose. Nasal decongestant sprays should not be used continuously for more than 7 days, since continual use can cause a side effect of rebound congestion once you stop. They are available as a spray or tablet.

Choosing the right product

When to Use What: Choosing the Right Nasal Spray for Allergies

  • For Mild Symptoms - Saline nasal sprays are an excellent option for mild allergy symptoms, providing gentle relief without the risk of side effects. They can be used as needed throughout the day to moisturize and clear the nasal passages.
  • For Moderate to Severe Symptoms - Corticosteroid nasal sprays are the preferred choice for moderate to severe allergy symptoms, providing long-lasting relief from congestion, sneezing, and runny nose. They should be used regularly, even when symptoms are not present, for optimal effectiveness.
  • For Acute Congestion - Decongestant nasal sprays offer rapid relief from nasal congestion but should be used sparingly and for short periods to avoid rebound congestion and dependence. They are best reserved for acute episodes of congestion, such as during a cold or sinus infection.

In summary, allergy nasal sprays are effective tools for managing symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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