Using Nasal Sprays Only When Needed Can Ease Allergy Symptoms
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
"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
"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
- People who suffer from seasonal allergies can get relief by using steroid
nasal sprays, such as Flonase, on an as-needed basis.
- These nasal sprays work by stopping inflammation, the body's natural
response to an allergy-causing substance, which in turn prevents congestion,
runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes.
- Identifying allergy-causing substances and using allergy shots are
necessary for effective, long-term treatment of allergies.