Nasal Sprays

Uses, Benefits and Side Effects of Nasal Sprays.

Nasal Sprays Overview

If the good news of changing hot weather to autumn and winters bring along sneezing, runny nose, or congestion for you, then you are amongst the 30% of the adult population in the world suffering from seasonal allergies. To deal with these allergies, one of the most effective remedies can be nasal sprays.  

Nasal Sprays

How Do Nasal Sprays Work?

Nasal sprays are used to deliver medicine systemically and directly into the nasal cavities. They are used in cases like nasal inflammation and rhinitis allergic. In certain conditions, the systematic treatment favors a nasal delivery path since it is a convenient substitute for tablets or even injections. There are various drugs available as sprays that help in relieving allergies, congestions, pain and nausea. By using sprays, elements are absorbed rapidly through the nose and are considered more effective in transporting medicine that are possibly used to cross the boundary between the blood and brain.

You can easily have access to these sprays from your nearby pharmacy, but first, you should know the different types of sprays available for various symptoms.  

Types of Nasal Sprays

Various types of sprays are available with minimum side-effects and maximum results. Let us study them individually. 


The medicine from these sprays are injected directly into the nostrils for the relief of congestion that may be caused by different conditions that may include common cold, hay fever, sinusitis and allergies. It reduces swelling and congestion in the nose by constricting the blood vessels there. Some over the counter decongestion spray medicines are:

  • Oxymetazoline hydrochloride  
  • Phenylephrine hydrochloride  

Another type–the pseudoephedrine, can be obtained by the doctor’s prescription. For allergies, antihistamine and decongestions are used in combinations. 

It is recommended not to use decongestion sprays for more than three days as they can block your nose more before you stop using them. You should also check your doctor before using decongestions if you have:

  • Glaucoma
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure
  • Heart disease 
  • Diabetes
  • Unbalanced thyroid 
  • Enlarged prostate

Decongestions can increase nervousness in some patients or even have trouble sleeping. These symptoms are less likely to result from nasal sprays and can be used as a fast remedy.


Antihistamine medicines are used for the treatment of various allergy symptoms like congestion, runny and itchy nose, and sneezing. They can be obtained by prescription. These sprays include:

  • Azelastine
  • Olopatadine

Antihistamine sprays cause less dizziness than pills, so they can be used during the day. However, some people may feel sleepy using the spray as well. 


This spray is used for allergic conditions like runny nose by reducing mucus production. It is not used to relieve congestion or sneezing. It contains Ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) that treats extra secretion from the glands that line the nasal passage. It is available on prescription only. 

People with an allergy to Atrovent or have glaucoma or enlarged prostate may not be recommended to use these sprays. They can be used for atleast three weeks when your allergy symptoms are at the topmost. 

Some side effects may includeheadache, sore throat, bleeding, or irritation in the nose. 


These sprays effectively reduce allergic symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and runny nose. Steroid sprays help by reducing swelling and inflammation in the nose. Typically, they are the first allergy treatment prescribed, but a week or two is required before seeing the relief in your symptoms. These over the counter sprays include:

  • Triamcinolone
  • Budesonide
  • Fluticasone

However, sprays containing ciclesonide and mometasone can be prescribed by the doctor.

Consistent use of these sprays has proved huge benefits in patients. However, some may see side effects like nosebleed, sore or dry throat, and headache. 

Cromolyn Sodium

This is a mast cell inhibitor spray used to avoid allergic symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, or itchy eyes. Cromolyn Sodium works by preventing the production of histamine and other associated chemicals that cause seasonal allergies from mast cells if a person encounters an allergen such as pollen. It is best to use these sprays before the start of allergy season. However, they may not be effective as the steroid sprays. 

Over the counter, cromolyn sodium nasal sprays are available that should be used frequently since the result lasts for up to eight hours only. They can be used with other drugs as well as their only effect is on the area applied. You should ask your doctor first if you are also suffering from wheezing due to sinus or asthma. People allergic to any elements may stop using it. 

The use of sodium cromolyn sprays has reported some side effects like nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, nosebleeds and burning.

Nasal Sprays for Seasonal Allergies

How Effective Are Nasal Sprays For Seasonal Allergies?

Generally, nasal sprays are quite effective in treating allergy symptoms, especially the nasal steroid sprays as they treat almost all the significant signs of allergies like inflammation, runny nose, congestion, and sneezing. 

While oral medications usually treat allergies, nasal sprays alone can prove useful if all the problem prevails around the nose premises. 

Nasal sprays that are prescribed by doctors for long term use are tolerated with no trouble by most of the patients. Contrarywise, if patients suffer from any damage or injury in their nasal passage should strictly avoid any types of nasal sprays. 


Decongestion nose sprays are effective during the early stages of seasonal allergies, while the mast cell inhibitors should be started before the signs of any symptoms. Steroids sprays can be used to recover from severe allergic symptoms. Nasal sprays are a quick relief from seasonal allergies but may also cause various irritation if used randomly. 

Check out for the elements of allergies and let your doctor know about any of the mentioned issues or if using any other over the counter drugs before using these medications to avoid side effects altogether. 

Written by: Madiha Ather Hashmi (September 22, 2020)

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Ahmed Abdelmajeed
Alexandria University Hospital

I have reviewed the articles on and I would like to say that I was very surprised.
Over years, I have seen many different articles in the field of allergy, but these articles were very interesting.
These articles were really unique, they could help many people around the world to know more about seasonal allergy, symptoms, prevention and when to seek medical advice.
These articles represent an addition in the field of Health Education not only for people with allergy but also for the whole population.

Looking to learn more about allergy lifestyles? Find a full list of living with allergies resources here.

Last Updated on July 5, 2023

Seasonal Allergies