Types of Nasal Sprays: Which is Best for You?

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Allergies can be a real nuisance, causing sneezing, congestion, runny noses, and itchy eyes. When allergy symptoms strike, many people turn to nasal sprays for relief. These handy over-the-counter or prescription medications can help alleviate allergy symptoms by targeting the source of the problem – the nasal passages. In this blog, we will explore the different types of nasal sprays available for allergies and how they can provide much-needed relief. We will also look at why one should see an ENT for allergy symptoms. 

Antihistamine Nasal Sprays

Antihistamine nasal sprays are a popular choice for allergy sufferers. They work by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical that your body releases during an allergic reaction. Histamine causes many allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose. By inhibiting histamine, antihistamine nasal sprays can effectively relieve these symptoms.

Some common antihistamine nasal sprays include:

  • Azelastine (Astelin)
  • Olopatadine (Patanase)

These sprays are usually available over the counter or by prescription, depending on the strength. They can provide rapid relief from allergy symptoms and are generally safe for short-term use.

Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays

Corticosteroid nasal sprays are another powerful tool in the fight against allergies. They work by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages, which is a major contributor to congestion and other allergy symptoms. These sprays are often recommended for people with chronic or persistent allergies.

Common corticosteroid nasal sprays include:

  • Fluticasone (Flonase)
  • Mometasone (Nasonex)

Corticosteroid nasal sprays are typically available by prescription, although some lower-dose options are now available over the counter. They are safe for long-term use under a doctor’s guidance and can provide significant relief from allergy symptoms.

Decongestant Nasal Sprays

Decongestant nasal sprays are a quick fix for nasal congestion caused by allergies or colds. They work by narrowing blood vessels in the nasal passages, reducing swelling, and improving airflow. However, they should be used sparingly and for short durations, as overuse can lead to a condition called “rebound congestion.”

Common decongestant nasal sprays include:

  • Oxymetazoline (Afrin)
  • Phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine)

It’s important to follow the instructions on the packaging carefully when using decongestant nasal sprays to avoid potential side effects.

Saline Nasal Sprays

Saline nasal sprays are a natural and gentle way to relieve allergy symptoms. They contain a simple saltwater solution that helps rinse away allergens and mucus from the nasal passages. Saline sprays are non-medicated and can be used as often as needed, making them a safe choice for all ages, including children and pregnant women.

While saline nasal sprays may not provide as immediate or potent relief as other types, they can be a valuable addition to your allergy management routine, especially for maintaining nasal health and comfort.

Combination Nasal Sprays

Some nasal sprays combine multiple active ingredients to provide comprehensive relief. For example, there are combination sprays that include both an antihistamine and a corticosteroid. These can be especially effective for individuals with severe allergies who require both immediate and long-term symptom relief.

Why to See an ENT for Seasonal Allergies

Seeing an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist for seasonal allergies is essential for several reasons. ENTs possess specialized expertise in diagnosing and treating allergy-related conditions affecting the nasal passages, sinuses, and throat. They can accurately identify the specific allergens triggering your seasonal allergy symptoms through various diagnostic tests, ensuring a precise diagnosis. With this knowledge, ENTs can recommend tailored treatment options, including prescription medications, allergen avoidance strategies, and, in some cases, allergen immunotherapy. Additionally, if your seasonal allergies lead to chronic sinus issues or other complications, an ENT can provide surgical interventions to improve your quality of life. Overall, consulting an ENT for seasonal allergies ensures comprehensive care and effective management of your symptoms, enabling you to enjoy the changing seasons with greater comfort and well-being.


Nasal sprays are versatile tools in the battle against allergy symptoms, offering a range of options to suit different needs and preferences. Whether you opt for antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, saline, or combination sprays, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider for proper guidance on usage and to ensure that the chosen nasal spray aligns with your specific allergy triggers and symptoms.

Remember that nasal sprays are just one part of an overall allergy management plan, which may also include seeing an ENT for your allergy symptoms. With the right approach, you can find the relief you need to breathe easier and enjoy life even in the midst of allergy season.

Lee A. Kleiman a doctor at Anne Arundel ENT

Dr. Lee A. Kleiman is a double board certified ENT & plastic surgeon at Anne Arundel ENT in Annapolis, Maryland known for his superior clinical outcomes in all Surgical and Non-Surgical ENT, specializing in Sinus Care, Voice and Swallowing, Rhinoplasty and Revision Rhinoplasty, and Facelifts and Non-surgical Aesthetic. He also continues to attend conferences internationally and nationally to keep abreast of the latest treatments and technology.