Are Non-Prescription Nasal Sprays Safe?

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 10:39 AM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: I have allergies and often use an over-the-counter nasal spray decongestant. Sometimes I’ll use the spray a dozen or more times a day. Is this safe?
 
Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
 
Over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays should be not be used regularly by allergy patients. They often get used contrary to directions, and regular use — for as little as three to five days — can cause a rebound condition, and actually make congestion worse.
 
Your best bet is to see your doctor for a prescription steroid spray, perhaps with Prednisone, to break up your congestion. Allergic rhinitis is best managed with prescription nasal inhaled products containing low doses of cortisone in combination with an oral anti-histamine such as Zyrtec.
 
Difficult or recurring cases may require the addition of a drug like Singulair. Of course, the mainstay of treatment should include avoidance of any known allergens and irritants, including tobacco, and drinking alcohol only in moderation.

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