Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

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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