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Should I use a nasal spray for my cold symptoms?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

If you want to use a nasal spray for your cold symptoms, you have two choices: a saline solution, which will help keep the lining of your nose moist so that it's easier to blow out the mucus, or a decongestant nasal spray, which reduces the swelling inside your nose. Don't use a decongestant spray for more than a few days or you risk a rebound effect, meaning the medicine will stop working as well.

If you are an adult, you can use a decongestant nasal spray containing active ingredients like phenylephrine or oxymetazoline for the nasal congestion due to colds or the flu, but you should not use these for more than the time specified on the bottle. This is usually no more than three days. Children six and older may use the appropriate dosage under adult supervision. Care must be exercised as these drugs may be dangerous to young children if swallowed. Other nasal sprays that may help are unmedicated saline sprays, which ease dry, irritated nasal tissues, and homeopathic sprays that contain menthol and eucalyptus. Allergy sprays, like those with fluticasone or triamcinolone, are not particularly useful for colds but may ease congestion if you're suffering from seasonal allergies at the same time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.