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    Using Nasal Sprays Only When Needed Can Ease Allergy Symptoms

    WebMD Health News

    April 25, 2000 --Doctors now recommend daily use of steroid nasal sprays for many patients whose seasonal allergies cause sniffling, sneezing, and stuffiness. But a new study shows that simply using the sprays when they're needed can relieve nasal congestion.

    Allergic rhinitis affects 20 to 40 million Americans each year, causing congestion, runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes. Antihistamines, decongestants, and steroid nasal sprays are some of the ways doctors can treat allergy symptoms. For people with severe nasal symptoms, steroid nasal sprays often relieve congestion that antihistamines cannot.

    "Congestion in particular is not well relieved with routine antihistamine therapy, even the new non-sedating antihistamines," allergy expert James L. Sublett, MD tells WebMD. Steroid nasal sprays "will relieve the inflammation and will gradually reduce the swelling to relieve the nasal blockage, with better results in the longer term and far less risk for side effects than the oral decongestants," says Sublett, who was not involved in the new study.

    Most physicians and the manufacturers of these drugs recommended regular daily use during allergy season to stop the inflammation brought on by allergy causing substances. But the results of this study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, show that people who suffer from allergies may be able to take nasal sprays only when they need to.

    Albert Jen, MD, and colleagues studied 52 patients with mild to moderate seasonal allergies. All were over 18 years old, in excellent health, and tested positive for allergies to ragweed. The patients were divided into two groups and treated with either a placebo or Flonase nasal spray. They used two sprays in each nostril on days they were having symptoms, and were not allowed to use any other medications.

    Those treated with Flonase had fewer symptoms than those who got the placebo, and the improvements were seen after only five days of treatment, the researchers found.

    "These preparations offer a very effective way of treating allergic rhinitis, particularly in those people who have significant daily symptoms," says Sublett, national medical director of Vivra Asthma & Allergy Inc., one of the largest groups of respiratory disease specialists in the U.S.

    "At this time of the year, when we are well into the tree-pollen season, using ... nasal steroids such as [Flonase] would result in reducing the inflammatory response, which indirectly will help reduce the drainage and the nasal congestion that's associated with allergic rhinitis," Sublett tells WebMD.

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