For people with allergies and asthma, sometimes the very air they breathe can be bad for their health. That’s because a variety of pollutants in our air -- collectively called smog -- can aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms, leaving people with these conditions struggling to breathe.
Decongestant sprays shrink swollen blood vessels and tissues in your nose that cause congestion. Oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Afrin, Dristan, Sinex) and phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine) are some examples of these medicines. You can buy them over the counter.
Don’t use decongestant nasal sprays longer than three days. Using them longer can actually make your nose more stopped up. Ask your doctor before using them if you have glaucoma or high blood pressure that’s not under control.
Antihistamine sprays relieve congestion, itchy and runny nose, and sneezing. They are available by prescription and include azelastine (Astelin, Astepro) and olopatadine (Patanase). They usually cause less drowsiness than antihistamine pills, but they still may make some people sleepy.
Steroid Nasal Sprays
These sprays work very well to reduce the swelling in your nose so you can breathe better. They also help stop a drippy nose. They're often the first drug recommended for allergies, but it takes a few days to weeks before you’ll notice your symptoms getting better.
Examples of steroid nasal sprays available by prescription include beclomethasone (Beconase, Qnasl), ciclesonide (Zetonna), fluticasone furoate (Veramyst), fluticasone proprionate (Flonase), fluticasone furoate (Veramyst), and mometasone (Nasonex). Three medications can be purchased over the counter -- budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone (Flonase Allergy Relief), and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR).
This nasal spray prevents your body from releasing histamine, the chemical that causes your allergy symptoms like runny nose and sneezing. It can also help a stuffy nose. Some people see results in only 30 minutes. For it to work best, you need to start using it one to two weeks before allergy season starts and then use it one or more times every day. It doesn’t work as well as steroid nasal sprays.
You can buy NasalCrom as a nasal spray at the drugstore.
Cromolyn is safe for most people. Ask your doctor before using it if you have wheezing from asthma or sinus pain. Side effects can include sneezing and nasal burning.
Ipratropium Nasal (Atrovent Nasal)
This prescription nasal spray treats a runny nose by stopping the production of mucus. It doesn’t relieve congestion or sneezing very well.