|Conventional nasal sprays are some of the most frequently used drugs for the treatment of common cold and sinus symptoms. These nasal sprays are used locally by administering measured doses of medicine into the patient’s body through their nose or nasal passages (nostrils). These sprays are very effective in relieving nasal congestion and stuffiness. Different nasal sprays are also used to treat different conditions such as hayfever, sinusitis and allergies etc.
Before knowing what side effects nasal sprays can have, we must first understand how a common nasal spray works.
How it works
When a dose of medicine is sprayed into the nose, certain drugs in the spray begin to narrow the blood vessels. This constriction process helps to reduce inflammation and allows one to feel freed from stuffiness and congestion. But the draw back of these nasal sprays is that after some time the effect of the nasal spray wears down and the blood vessels expand again. Problems start from here. In order to stay sinus free one needs to use these nasal sprays again and again, with increased dosages. Repeated use of conventional nasal sprays can cause side effects.
Common side effects of using Conventional nasal sprays
The side effects of conventional nasal sprays vary from one to another depending on the drugs contained in them. Side effects range from mild to severe and it also varies from one individual to another, depending on their health condition and their usage of the nasal spray.
Here are some common side effects caused by using conventional nasal sprays:-
- Pricking or burning sensation in the nose, which can be very painful
- The nostrils may become extremely dry
- An altered taste may be experienced
- Dizziness and sleepiness are very common side effects
- Palpitation in the arms and hands
- Weakness and fatigue
- Prone to fungal invasion of the nose or the throat
- Continuous coughing
- Skin irritation may occur and it varies from mild to severe
- Nasal blisters or ulcers also seen in some
- Women may have very painful menstruations
- Excessive watering of the eyes
- Triggers some allergic reaction in the body
- Nose bleeds
Severe side effects of conventional nasal sprays
The continuous and chronic use of conventional nasal sprays results in more severe side effects such as the examples below:
- Increased thirstiness and urination
- Sever skin allergy
- Severe nasal bleeding may occur
- Chronic Post Nasal Drip (PND) – backward flow of mucus from the sinuses to the back of the throat
- A sensation of nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Constant painful headaches
- Itching and swelling particularly of the face, tongue and throat
- Continuous fits of sneezing
- Some patients may experience a rapid and throbbing heartbeat
It is important to contact a doctor immediately if any of the above side effects are experienced when using a nasal spray.
Another common side effect of using conventional nasal sprays is a condition known as ‘rebound rhinitis or rebound congestion’. This is a condition that develops if a person is using their nasal spray for more than 3 – 5 days continuously. Besides your body becoming “addicted to” or dependent on the nasal spray, continuous use of a nasal spray can cause the mucus membranes to become excessively dry. Under normal conditions, the inside of the nose should be neither dry nor have excessive mucus. The body has a built in mechanism that combats a dry nose by telling the mucus membranes to increase its mucus production excessively. This causes a runny nose (rhinitis) or causes you to feel stuffy (congestion). The normal reaction is to use more and more of the nasal spray thereby resulting in a vicious cycle of rebound rhinitis and/or congestion.
Nasal Spray Alternatives
In order to avoid the side effects of conventional nasal sprays, there are some other alternatives that you may consider using. These alternatives are also known to treat congestion, allergies and even a blocked nose. Here are some of the options:
- Homeopathic treatment and medicines (in tablets and nasal sprays)
- Steam inhalation
- Saline nasal drops
- Certain herbal remedies
- Essential oils like Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Lavender
- Nasal irrigation (netti pot)
Always use these alternative medicines exactly as prescribed. Always consult with your doctor before attempting to use any medicines, alternative or otherwise especially if you have other chronic health conditions.