How to use nasal spray

There are two types of freely available nasal sprays: nasal decongestants and natural nasal sprays.

Decongestant nasal sprays (such as Otrivine®, Nasivin® or Olynth® ) contain vasoconstricting substances i.e. cause narrowing of the blood vessels. Their cause a short term reduction in swelling of the nasal lining (mucosa) and  clear  the nose for several hours. This is particularly useful for overnight treatment.

However, it is not recommended to use decongestant nasal sprays for treatment periods longer than 7-10 days. Long term use of these sprays can result in an addiction to the active ingredients and can be detrimental to the natural function of the nasal mucosa. This can reach a point at which the patient cannot breathe freely without the use of the nasal decongestant.

Their use is therefore only recommended for the treatment of acute sinusitis. However, there are some circumstances under which use of decongestant nasal sprays should be discussed with a doctor first. This is the case during pregnancy for example.

Natural nasal sprays which contain saline are used to moisten the mucosa and also help to liquefy the nasal secretions. This helps to counter inflammation and to alleviate the symptoms of chronic sinusitis.

Natural nasal sprays do not always help to bring about short term decongestion, however, they can be used without any concerns for long periods. They are particularly useful for preventative treatment (especially in the winter months when regular moistening of the mucosa is advisable) and to counter the symptoms of chronic sinusitis.

How to use a nasal spray to prevent recurring infections:

  • The spray nozzle should be cleaned before the user closes the protective cap.The spray nozzle should be removed from the nose after while the pump held down and before another dose it administered. This reduces the likelihood of trapping germs  in the nasal spray container which could re-infect the user when reusing the spray.
  • Similar steps can be recommended for nasal drops: the pipette should be retracted from the nose while the suction cap is still pressed. This avoids contamination of the internal parts of the pipette with germs and pathogens.
  • After use, the pipette should be wiped with a clean cloth before it re-enters the flask.
  • Transmission of germs from person to person can be prevented through single patient use of each nasal spray. A new spray should be used if a new episode of infection is encountered.

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