Several types of medication are sold as nasal sprays. These fall roughly into three categories, namely over-the-counter cold and allergy medication, prescription allergy medication, and medication administered nasally for other conditions.
These sprays are used to treat cold or allergy symptoms, which could include itching, sneezing or nasal congestion.
The lining of your nose has many blood vessels, so medication administered here is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. The normal clearance of mucus towards the throat becomes obstructed, and this causes a build-up of mucus in the sinus cavities. Saline solutions could reduce the symptoms of nasal congestion and irritation, and even nasal dryness. If the problem persists, you might need to ask your doctor or pharmacist for a specific decongestant.
Most nasal sprays emit a fine mist of medication into the nostrils. The bottles usually have a small hand-operated pump over the opening, or a pressurised canister.
There should always be clear instructions on the product on how to use the spray. Ask your pharmacist if you’re struggling.
- Blow your nose to get rid of mucus before you use the nasal spray.
- Shake the canister or spray bottle properly.
- You may have to prime it by pressing a few times before anything comes out.
- Place the bottle or canister tip into your nostril.
- Hold your head upright and press on the side of your nose to close off the other nostril.
- Direct the tip of the bottle toward the back and outer side of your nose; not the tip of your nose.
- Breathe in and sniff gently as you squeeze the spray into your nose. Don’t snort – everything will go straight into your throat.
- Breathe out through your mouth after you’ve removed the tip of the bottle from your nose.
- Don’t blow your nose and try not to sneeze directly after administering the spray.
- Repeat on the other nostril.
Good to know
- Don’t use a nasal decongestant for more than a week, as it could cause a condition called rebound congestion. Your nasal passages might become and remain congested unless you use decongestant spray.
- If the nasal spray is dripping from your nose or down the back of your throat, you’re possibly spraying too much into your nose, or spraying it at an incorrect angle. Reread the instructions carefully.
- Clean the nozzle of the spray bottle if it becomes clogged.
- Never share your nasal spray with other people, as infections can easily be spread in this way.
- If nasal sprays cause an unpleasant taste in your mouth, sip some fruit juice or water immediately after.
- If a nasal spray makes your nose sting, itch, or bleed, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Don’t just carry on using it.
- Nasal spray is liquid medication that can easily become contaminated. Follow the instructions on storing it, keep out of reach of children, and don’t use once it’s passed its expiry date.
- Certain medicines that are administered as a nasal spray aren’t for nasal or sinus problems. This includes a spray that helps your body control its calcium levels to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Some migraine medications are administered by nasal spray.