For many sinus and allergy sufferers, nasal sprays are a godsend when their symptoms are acting up. In fact, it is quite an effective remedy when used properly. However, when using nasal spray, it’s important to understand the different classes and the risks associated with each one.
Why do nasal sprays work? First and foremost, they provide moisture to your nasal passages, and second, they open them up so that air flows freely. This is important because:
- When the membranes in your nose become dry, they become irritated. In addition, the mucus gets dry, and, in turn, gets thicker. The thicker the mucus, the more clogged your sinuses.
- Allergens, bacteria and viruses can also build up in your sinuses when the mucus is blocking airflow, which in addition, causes the mucus to become thicker. And although this is your body’s way of guarding itself against the irritants, again, the thicker the mucus, the more congested you become and the more chance of infections.
There are different types of nasal sprays and for a guide to the different brands and their usage, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Here, we are going to take a quick look at the different classes.
Antihistamines: In “The Anti’s of Antihistamines,” we explained that antihistamines “prevent the effects of histamine, the substance your body releases when you are exposed to an allergen. The histamine is what causes you to sneeze as well as have a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Therefore, antihistamines are designed to give you relief from these symptoms.” Antihistamines are best taken before exposure to the allergen, which is not always possible.
Corticosteroids: These sprays contain the man-made hormone cortisol, which is designed to block histamine much like an antihistamine. They also decrease the inflammation in the nasal passages, allowing them to drain and the airflow to increase. As you can see in “Are Corticosteroids Safe for Long-Term Use,” there are serious risks associated with this type of medication.
Decongestants: WebMD explains that this type of nose spray works by “narrowing blood vessels in the lining of your nose, which shrinks swollen tissues,” thereby allowing air to flow more freely. However, your body will only respond positively to the medication for about three days and they are not safe for people with certain medical conditions.
The other problem with decongestant nasal spray is that if used for an extended period of time, they can actually make your symptoms worse. This condition is called “rebound,” or technically, rhinitis medicamentosa, and if not addressed, can lead to serious long-term problems.
Saline/Salt Water: As the name suggests, these over-the-counter nasal sprays are a mix of salt and water and contain no medication. They are very effective in loosening mucus and restoring moisture to your nasal passages and can be used daily. However, for chronic sinus issues, you’ll probably need additional medication.
While each type of nasal spray has its benefits, it also has its risks, including side effects. One of nasal spray’s greatest disadvantages is that it is only a temporary solution to the problem, so if you suffer from chronic allergies or sinusitis, the cost and commitment of treating your symptoms in this way will well outweigh the benefits.
At CT Sinus Center, in just about one hour, we can put an end to your sinus suffering permanently through one of our non-invasive, innovative, outpatient procedures: Balloon Sinus Dilation and Turbinate Reductions. To find out how we can help you, schedule a consultation today with our expert physicians at one of our four conveniently-located offices. With our patient-centered approach, we will walk you through everything from the initial consultation to thorough diagnostic testing to a diagnosis to a specific, individualized treatment plan that is right for you.
Call 860-BALLOON today to schedule your appointment and get help from those who “nose” how to end sinus suffering.