Take Care with Nasal Sprays
Many people turn to a medicated nasal decongestant spray to offer fast relief for
a stuffy and running nose. It can reduce swelling and clear mucus from nasal passages
In fact, these products often work so well that people are tempted to use them for
too long. If you use a medicated nasal spray for more than 3 days in a row, you may
develop rebound rhinitis medicamentosa (RM) when you do stop. This condition can cause
prolonged sinus congestion. It may even damage your nasal passages over time.
RM can be quite uncomfortable. But using the nasal spray again helps you feel a little
better. That’s why many people tend to keep using it, often more frequently and persistently.
This creates a vicious cycle.
If you’re in this situation, ask your healthcare provider for advice. Ask how to taper
off using the spray. And ask for help finding a safe way to deal with your congestion.
You can also ask your pharmacist about other choices.
Nasal sprays that have only saline are one option. They use saline to moisturize the
nostrils and reduce mucus and crust buildup. Topical steroid sprays are another option. Many
over-the-counter decongestants taken by mouth (oral) may ease pressure in the nasal
passages. But they don’t ease a runny nose. They also can have side effects. These
include lightheadedness and dizziness. They may also increase your blood pressure.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against using cold remedies for children.
Cough and cold products are not effective in treating symptoms of children under 6
years old. And some serious health problems have been linked to use of these medicines
in children. For a stuffy nose, the AAP advises the following:
Use saline nose drops to thin nasal mucus. Ask your healthcare provider which ones to use. Never use nonprescription nose drops
that contain any medicine.
Use a suction bulb to clear your baby's nose. First squeeze the bulb, then gently put the rubber tip into one nostril and slowly
release the bulb. Gentle suction draws clogged mucus out of the nose. This works best
for babies younger than 6 months old.
Use a cool-mist humidifier in your child's room. This can help moisten the air and clear a child's nasal passages. Clean and dry the
humidifier each day to prevent bacterial and mold contamination.