Azelastine nasal spray is an antihistamine used to treat allergies and hay fever. Symptoms of hay fever typically include watery eyes, a runny or itchy nose, and sneezing. In addition, allergies can cause coughing, itchy throat, and dark circles under the eyes, otherwise known as "allergy shiners." Typically, allergy shiners are the result of chronic allergies and hay fever and do not usually show up as the primary symptom.
Side effects of azelastine nasal spray include burning of the inside of the nose, fatigue, bad taste in the mouth, and muscle pain. In addition, throat burning, stomach upset, and weight gain can occur. Since azelastine nasal spray can cause significant drowsiness, similar to the way oral antihistamines can, individuals should be cautious when driving or operating heavy machinery.
Although side effects from azelastine nasal spray are typically mild and temporary, severe allergic reactions can occur. If an individual experiences swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips, or suffers chest pain, or difficulty breathing, he should seek emergency medical attention. This is also true if rapid heartbeat or chest tightness occurs. These symptoms are rare, but usually reversible.
People should never consume alcohol when using azelastine nasal spray and they should tell their health care providers if they are taking other medications because of the possibility of drug interactions. These include pain relievers, anti-anxiety medications, and sleep aids, because they can intensify the effects of drowsiness produced by the azelastine nasal spray.
Occasionally, the person using azelastine nasal spray may experience a bloody nose. This may be related to irritation of the delicate mucus membranes of the nasal lining. If bleeding becomes severe or prolonged, the individual should stop using the medication and notify his health care provider. Pinching the upper nostril area and applying ice may help stop the bleeding.
If azelastine nasal spray cannot be tolerated by the patient, the physician may recommend an oral antihistamine as an alternative. Although oral antihistamines produce similar side effects, such as drowsiness and fatigue, they generally do not cause irritation of the nasal lining, throat burning, and bad taste in the mouth.
When symptoms of hay fever and allergies become severe, the physician may refer his patient to an allergist who can recommend further testing. These tests may include sensitivity testing or scratch tests and various blood tests. In addition, instead of prescribing a nasal spray to relieve symptoms, the allergist may recommend that the patient receive allergy injections.