Skip to content

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Allergy Relief: Oral Medicines or Nasal Sprays?

How do nasal sprays with mast cell inhibitors and anticholinergics give nasal allergy relief?

Nasal sprays with mast cell inhibitors help prevent allergy symptoms such as runny nose or itchy eyes. These allergy medicines need several days to give good allergy relief and should be started up to one week before contact with allergens. Mast cell inhibitors are available without a prescription.

Anticholinergics are useful allergy medicines if you have a clear, watery discharge (rhinorrhea) from the nose. These allergy medications may work with antihistamines. Anticholinergic nasal sprays give relief of allergy symptoms by reducing a runny nose.

Are there side effects with nasal sprays used for allergy relief?

Sometimes, steroid nasal sprays can cause nasal irritation and a burning sensation, and nasal bleeding. In addition, perforation of the nasal septum can occur if the nasal spray is not used properly. Directing the spray toward the ear and away from the nasal septum can reduce the risk of these side effects.

Decongestant nasal sprays should only be used for three days or you may experience a rebound nasal congestion -- you'll feel even more stuffed up. Antihistamine nasal sprays may cause drowsiness in some people.

Anticholinergic nasal sprays may cause irritation or excessive nasal dryness, which may lead to nosebleeds.

How can I find the most effective nasal spray for allergy relief?

Talk to your doctor to learn more about effective allergy medicines delivered in nasal sprays. You may have to try a few different types of allergy medicines to find the one that gives the most allergy relief without unwanted side effects.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on May 19, 2014
1 | 2

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