Nasal congestion can be frustrating even if it only lasts a few days. If you seem to struggle to get enough air to pass through your nasal airway, you may have come to rely on decongestant sprays more than you’d like. These products are easy to obtain over-the-counter and do provide fast relief. Sometimes, that relief can last up to 12 hours. When chronic congestion is a problem, 12 hours of free breathing sounds great! But is it?
There is something to be said for nasal decongestant sprays. These products are not ingested and cause fewer side effects than oral medications that reduce congestion with pseudoephedrine. This is because systemic absorption of topical medication, even inside the nasal passageway, is lower than it is when medication is taken orally (unless you exceed the recommended dosage). The downside to the frequent use of decongestant nasal spray is that there could be a rebound effect that ultimately exacerbates the problem you’re trying to correct.
Tips for the Effective Use of Nasal Spray
- Go lightly. Over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays contain medication and should not be used for more than three consecutive days. Excessive or elongated use is one of the primary reasons for rebound congestion. Even though this secondary congestion, related to swelling, typically resolves after about three days, it creates unnecessary frustration.
- Don’t mix and match. Nasal decongestant spray should not be layered on top of oral decongestant medication even though the two may work in slightly different ways. Mixing and matching decongestants can increase unwanted side effects. If a nasal spray is not providing the desired relief, switch to oral medication or, better yet, see your doctor.
- Get a professional opinion. Seeing your doctor for congestion that lasts more than a week or two is a good idea for a few reasons. First, decongestants may not be appropriate for people with conditions such as thyroid disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Second, persistent congestion cannot be managed with over-the-counter medications that are formulated to provide short-term relief. Stuffiness that lingers could be caused by infection or structural defect, both of which your doctor can address.
Schedule a Consultation
St. Louis Sinus Center has offices in the city and also in Festus, MO. Call an office near you to schedule a consultation.