There are various types of over the counter nasal sprays that serve different purposes. Some common types of nasal sprays include:
1. Saline nasal sprays: These are simple saltwater sprays that help to moisten nasal passages and can reduce congestion.
2. Decongestant nasal sprays: These sprays reduce swelling in the nasal passages by narrowing the blood vessels in the lining of the nose. They are effective in relieving nasal congestion, but should not be used for more than a few days as they can cause rebound congestion. E.g. Afrin
3. Steroid nasal sprays: Steroid nasal sprays reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, and are effective in treating allergies and other conditions that cause inflammation. Nasal steroids can lead to nose bleeds which is why proper usage and technique are important. A very rare complication that can occur is a perforation in the nasal septum, which is why it is important to use proper technique and have a provider perform nasal exams. E.g. Nasacort (triamcinolone), Flonase (fluticasone), Rhinocort (budesonide)
4. Antihistamine nasal sprays: These sprays block the action of histamine, a chemical that is released by the body in response to allergens. They are effective in treating allergies and hay fever. The most common side effect is a bitter taste in the mouth. E.g. Astepro (azelastine).
When used properly, over the counter nasal sprays can be very effective at treating allergies. Together, you and your allergist can help navigate the best treatment plan for you. He or she can answer any questions or concerns you may have.