The benefits of nasal spray use may vary from patient to patient, but the primary reason for using most varieties is to alleviate symptoms related to the common cold, flu, or allergies. There are several types of nasal spray, many of which are sold over the counter. Others are available by prescription only because they contain stronger medications that can interact with other medications or become addicting.
Saline solution is one common type of nasal spray that is used to hydrate nasal passages. This helps to soothe inflamed membranes and alleviate a stuffy nose in cold and allergy sufferers. Although saline solutions can be purchased in most pharmacies, it can also be made at home using warm water and a small amount of salt. This type of nasal spray is generally the safest and can often be used with small children.
Although effective for a mild stuffy nose, saline solution rarely has much impact on mucous membranes that are already highly inflamed and irritated. Medicated nasal spray use in this situation is generally warranted, and may include using a stronger over the counter variety. There are many name brand products which contain various drugs made to clear nasal passages almost immediately. They are generally only recommended in patients who are in extreme discomfort, and they are not suggested at all for pregnant women.
Nasal spray use can also include prescription medications that are administered through the nose to alleviate symptoms related to allergies, flu, and other illnesses. Use of these drugs should be closely monitored by a physician, and they are often not recommended for long term use. They may be used in combination with other medications on a temporary basis to further enhance results. Most prescription nasal sprays help to alleviate or prevent multiple symptoms, not only those which occur within the nose.
Prolonged nasal spray use has been known to cause a dependency to the medications used in many over the counter sprays. This can lead to damage to the sensitive membranes in the nose, and eventually leads to rupture and frequent nosebleeds. Additionally, frequent nasal spray use can have the opposite effect of what the medication is meant to do. Membranes may become so irritated and inflamed and nasal passages are not clear unless nasal spray is administered.
For these reasons, nasal spray should be used only as directed and only when absolutely necessary. Most manufacturers only recommend using their product twice within a 24 hour period, less if warranted. Those who are addicted to nasal spray should contact a physician to get treatment and advice on weaning off the medication in a safe manner. When used correctly, the benefits of nasal spray use usually outweigh the risks.