Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

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.

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?

blowing nose
woman with sore throat
lone star tick
Woman blowing nose

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Allergy prick test
Man sneezing into tissue
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching