Different Types Of Nasal Sprays And Their Usage

Different Types of Nasal Sprays and Their UsageAre you struggling with congestion or allergies? Nasal sprays may be just the solution you need! By misting medication directly into your nostrils, nasal sprays provide targeted relief to your nasal passages. But did you know that the benefits of nasal sprays don’t stop there? Thanks to the rich blood vessels in your nasal lining, the medication in a nasal spray can even travel to other parts of your body.

Whether you need an OTC or prescription option, nasal sprays are available in convenient pump or squeeze bottles. But before you start spraying away, it’s important to know how to use them correctly to ensure you receive the right dosage.

In this article, we’ll cover the different types of nasal sprays, their potential side effects, and the proper techniques for using them to achieve maximum results..

Types of Nasal Sprays

A wide variety of nasal sprays are available, including both over-the-counter and prescription options. Nasal sprays for congestion and allergies are commonly found in pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail locations. Additionally, some nasal sprays are designed to deliver vaccines to prevent illnesses, while others deliver medications to help manage various health conditions.

OTC Cold and Allergy Nasal Sprays

  • Afrin (oxymetazoline): Relieves nasal congestion from colds and sinus problems
  • NasalCrom (cromolyn): Relieves and prevents symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as sneezing, runny nose, or itching
  • Neo-Synephrine (phenylephrine): Relieves nasal congestion from colds and sinus problems
  • Flonase (fluticasone propionate): Treats sneezing and symptoms of hay fever
  • Nasacort (triamcinolone): Treats an itchy or runny nose
  • Rhinocort (budesonide): Steroid medication that prevents inflammation and treats a runny and itchy nose

Can I Use OTC Nasal Sprays for COVID?

If you’re experiencing nasal symptoms such as congestion and sneezing due to COVID-19, you may be curious about the effectiveness of medicated nasal sprays. Researchers are currently investigating the potential benefits and safety of these sprays for people with COVID-19.

A study conducted in 2021 showed that individuals who were using steroid nasal sprays before contracting COVID-19 were less likely to become seriously ill compared to those who weren’t using them. However, the researchers did not conclude that nasal sprays can be used as a treatment or preventative measure for COVID-19 due to insufficient evidence.

If you have COVID-19 and want relief from nasal congestion and other symptoms, it’s advisable to consult your healthcare provider regarding the use of over-the-counter nasal sprays or a prescribed nasal spray.

Prescription Allergy Nasal Sprays

  • Nasonex (mometasone): Shrinks nasal polyps and prevents and treats stuffy nose and other allergy symptoms
  • QNASL (beclomethasone): Treats allergy symptoms, such as sneezing
  • Zetonna/Omnaris (ciclesonide): Treats itchy and runny nose, and sneezing
  • Astelin (azelastine): A steroid-free antihistamine that reduces nasal allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose, hay fever, or other allergies (also available OTC in the U.S. under the name Astepro Allergy for adults and children ages 6 years and older)
  • Dymista (fluticasone/azelastine combination): Treats allergy symptoms, such as a runny and itchy nose • Patanase (olopatadine): Treats allergy symptoms, such as itchy nose and eyes
  • Xhance (fluticasone): Prescribed to treat nasal polyps
  • Nasarel (flunisolide): Relieves allergy symptoms, such as a runny or stuffy nose; sneezing, and itching (now available only as a generic)

Other Types of Nasal Sprays

  • Fortical (calcitonin): A medication used to treat osteoporosis by regulating calcium levels in the body and promoting bone density maintenance.
  • Imitrex (sumatriptan): A medication that alleviates migraine symptoms with or without an aura.
  • Nicotine nasal sprays: A device used for smoking cessation.
  • FluMist: An intranasal influenza vaccine that can only be administered by a healthcare professional.

How to Use Nasal Spray

The instructions for using a nasal spray can vary depending on the type of spray you have. If you are unsure about how to use your product, it’s important to ask your pharmacist for guidance. Here are some general tips to keep in mind before using a nasal spray:

  • Check that you are able to breathe through each nostril. If one is blocked, the medication may not reach far enough into the nasal passage to work effectively.
  • Be aware that some nasal sprays may require priming before use. To prime your spray, spray it a few times into the air until a fine mist appears. Avoid getting the mist in your eyes or on other people.
  • Follow the storage instructions provided with your nasal spray. Keep it out of direct sunlight, and keep it away from children. Do not share your nasal spray with others.
  • When you’re ready to use the spray, inhale gently as if you are smelling a favorite scent, such as a flower or food. Do not forcefully snort the spray, as this may cause the medication to bypass the nasal passage and go directly into your throat.

Step-by-Step Nasal Spray Instructions

These are the correct steps for using a pump-bottle nasal spray to ensure proper administration and optimal relief:

  1. Begin by blowing your nose gently to remove any mucus from your nasal passages.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to prevent any possible contamination.
  3. Gently shake the bottle of nasal spray and remove the cap. If it’s your first time using the spray, prime the dispenser by pumping it a few times until a fine mist is produced.
  4. Tilt your head slightly forward to prevent the medication from dripping down the back of your throat.
  5. Close one nostril by gently pressing against the side of your nose with your finger.
  6. Carefully insert the tip of the nasal spray into the other nostril.
  7. Point the tip towards the back and outer side of your nose, and make sure to direct the spray straight back and not upwards into the tip of your nose.
  8. Squeeze the nasal spray bottle while breathing in slowly through your nose.
  9. Remove the tip of the nasal spray from your nostril and breathe out through your mouth.
  10. Repeat these steps for the other nostril (if instructed to do so), using only the recommended amount of medication.
  11. After using the nasal spray, wipe the tip of the bottle with a tissue or alcohol pad and replace the cap.
  12. Try to avoid sneezing or blowing your nose immediately after using the nasal spray to allow the medication to fully absorb into your nasal passages.

If you’re using the nasal spray correctly, the medication should not drip down your nose or the back of your throat. However, some nasal sprays may leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, which can be cleared by drinking water or juice. It is important to follow the instructions for use and the recommended dosage to ensure proper and safe use of the nasal spray.

Expiration Dates

It is important to always check the expiration date on the bottle of nasal spray before using it. Using a nasal spray that has passed its expiration date can be harmful and may not provide the intended relief. Over time, the active ingredients in the medication may break down or lose their effectiveness, making the spray less potent.

Using an expired nasal spray can also increase the risk of contamination with dirt or bacteria, which can potentially cause infections or other adverse effects. To ensure the safety and efficacy of the medication, it is important to follow the expiration date and dispose of any unused or expired nasal sprays properly.

Nasal Spray Side Effects and Risks

Nasal sprays can cause side effects. Common side effects of nasal sprays include:

  • Sneezing
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Burning
  • Bleeding
  • Stinging
  • Increased runny nose
  • Dryness in the nose

If mild side effects don’t go away or get worse, or if you have any of the following serious side effects, call your provider:

  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Vision changes
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat

Nasal Spray Use During Pregnancy and Nursing

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important to seek advice from your healthcare provider before using any nasal spray, even those that are available over-the-counter. While there have not been any specific studies conducted on the use of OTC nasal sprays, such as Afrin, in pregnant or breastfeeding individuals, caution is advised.

Most product labels for nasal sprays include warnings for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals as a precautionary measure. This is because the potential risks and benefits of using nasal sprays during pregnancy and lactation are not fully understood, and there may be possible adverse effects on the developing fetus or nursing infant.

To ensure the safety of both you and your baby, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider before using any medication, including nasal sprays, during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Your provider can advise you on the best course of action based on your individual needs and circumstances.

Overuse and Rebound Congestion

To avoid developing rhinitis medicamentosa or rebound congestion, it is recommended to use decongestant nasal sprays for no more than three days. Overusing nasal sprays can cause them to become less effective and even worsen your symptoms. This is because the constant use of the medication leads to a narrowing of blood vessels in the nasal tissues, known as vasoconstriction, which initially helps to alleviate congestion and fluid in the nose.

Popular nasal sprays such as Afrin and Neo-Synephrine work by causing vasoconstriction, which reduces congestion and other symptoms. However, using nasal sprays too often or for prolonged periods can lead to tolerance, causing them to lose their effectiveness. To break the cycle of dependence on nasal sprays, you may need to use a metered-dose device called a Rhinostat, which helps wean you off the medication gradually.


Nasal sprays are a common remedy for alleviating congestion and other symptoms associated with allergies and colds. You can easily purchase nasal sprays over-the-counter (OTC) or get a prescription from your healthcare provider. However, certain nasal spray medications, such as vaccines, must be administered by a healthcare provider.

Although nasal sprays are effective in providing short-term relief, frequent or prolonged use can cause them to lose their effectiveness. Overusing nasal sprays can also lead to rebound congestion, where your symptoms worsen when the medication wears off, resulting in a cycle of dependency on the spray.

If you have been using a nasal spray for three days and your symptoms do not improve, worsen, or you experience serious side effects like vision problems or dizziness, discontinue use of the spray immediately and seek advice from your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

• Is it safe to use nasal spray every day?

Using a nasal spray for more than three days without consulting a healthcare provider is not recommended.

• Can nasal spray harm your nasal passages?

Frequent or prolonged use of nasal spray can damage the delicate tissues of your nose, leading to a condition called saddle nose deformity, which is a collapsed nasal bridge.

• Does nasal spray increase blood pressure?

Nasal sprays may cause the blood vessels in your nasal passages to narrow, leading to an increase in blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before using any nasal spray.

• Can nasal spray be overdosed?

Though rare, cases of nasal spray overdose have been reported. Overusing nasal spray can lead to symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, headache, and changes in blood pressure. If you experience these symptoms, call poison control and seek emergency medical care.

· Can Nasal Sprays Treat Snoring?

Nasal sprays are not typically used to treat snoring. Snoring is often caused by the vibration of the soft tissues in the back of the throat during sleep, and nasal congestion may contribute to snoring in some cases. However, there are other treatments available specifically for snoring, such as oral appliances or surgery, that may be more effective. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about snoring or if nasal congestion is interfering with your sleep.

Disclaimer & References:

The information provided by TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track is backed by credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, to ensure accuracy and reliability. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only and is not a replacement for professional medical advice. For any concerns or inquiries about a medical condition, it is recommended to seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider.

  1. Strauss R, Jawhari N, Attaway AH, et al. Intranasal corticosteroids are associated with better outcomes in coronavirus disease 2019J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2021;9(11):3934-3940.e9. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2021.08.007
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Oxymetazoline nasal spray.
  3. National Library of Medicine: DailyMed. AFRIN ORIGINAL- oxymetazoline hydrochloride spray[drug label].
  4. Mortuaire G, De Gabory L, François M, et al. Rebound congestion and rhinitis medicamentosa: nasal decongestants in clinical practice. Critical review of the literature by a medical panelEur Ann Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Dis. 2013;130(3):137-144. doi:10.1016/j.anorl.2012.09.005
  5. Brake DA, Hamilton GS 3rd, Bansberg SF. Nasal septal perforation due to desmopressin nasal spray useEar Nose Throat J.Published online July 8, 2021. doi:10.1177/01455613211026425
  6. Latham GJ, Jardine DS. Oxymetazoline and hypertensive crisis in a child: can we prevent it?Paediatr Anaesth. 2013;23(10):952-956. doi:10.1111/pan.12192

The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.

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