Saline Nasal Sprays

What is a Nasal Spray?

Nasal sprays are one of the quickest ways to administer medication for local treatment of people suffering from allergic rhinitis or nasal congestion. It efficiently transports the medicine directly through the nose and crosses the blood-brain barrier. The spray is useful for the treatment of a migraine, nausea, osteoporosis, etc. through the systemic administration of many pharmaceutical drugs. Nasal sprays are also effective in treating Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease by applying hormone replacement therapy.

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Types of Nasal Sprays

  • Steroid nasal sprays: It can help to relieve allergy symptoms and are easily available at any chemist store. They are also effective in clearing the stuffy feeling in the nose that occurs due to a sinus infection.
  • Decongestants: Available over the counter, they help by narrowing the blood vessels in the lining of the nose causing the swollen tissues to shrink. Thus, alleviating the stuffy feeling in the person’s nose. However, individuals must avoid the use of this spray for more than three days as it could cause the rebound effect which refers to the worsening of the cold symptoms.
  • Saline nasal spray: The spray consists of salt water solution and one doesn’t require a prescription to purchase this type of spray. They do not contain any medication and hence the person can use it as many times as they want. They prevent the inside of the nasal cavity from becoming crusty by loosening the mucus.

How do Saline Nasal Sprays Help?

A saline nasal spray helps to reduce the inflammation of the mucous membranes by restoring moisture in the dry nasal passages and sinuses. Patients can use a squirt bottle or a neti pot for the irrigation of the saline solution regularly that would cause thinning of the mucus and get rid of the bacteria in the nasal passage.

When Should We Use Saline Nasal Sprays?

Saline sprays can be used in case of allergies to remove pollen from the nasal passage or to prevent the dry feeling that people experience in their nose during winter. Over the counter saline nasal sprays and rinses help in the removal of pollen from the nasal lining. In case of allergies, doctors suggest the use of a saline spray to cleanse the nose of the thick mucus and debris before using the nasal steroid spray, as the thick mucus prevents the steroid from working to its full potential.

Types of Nasal Saline Sprays

Saline sprays are either available in pharmacies or can be prepared at home. The sprays that are available over the counter are of the following types:

  • Isotonic: Most of the sprays found at the chemist stores are isotonic. The concentration of salt and water in these sprays is the same as the saline concentration in the human body.
  • Hypertonic: These sprays have a higher concentration of salt than the amount in the body.

Advantages of Saline Nasal Sprays

  • Allergies: Nasal sprays are effective in treating allergies and lowers the use of allergy medications that a person may need otherwise. It enables a person to wash or rinse out allergens and pollen from the nasal cavities. It eliminates the triggers of the allergy from the nose, thus minimizing its effect on the rest of the body. Removal of other irritants that could create discomfort in the nasal passage like the dust, dry wall, debris, etc. is also possible by the use of saline sprays.
  • Cilia: It is a small hair-like structure that traps bacteria when the air enters the nose and travels to the lungs. They help to humidify air to the lungs and help to sense smell. These sprays help to maintain hygiene in the nose and if they remain healthy, they can protect the body from sinusitis and rhinitis.
  • Congestion: Saline sprays provide immediate relief in case of congestion. They remove the mucus from the sinus cavities allowing blowing it out or it flows out naturally. This spray can be used by children and infants too. Unlike decongestants, saline nasal sprays do not result in worsening of the symptoms if one discontinues its use.
  • Hydration: Dry weather and irritants can cause the nasal passage to become dry and the mucus to become crusty. What bacteria build up is also likely under a thick mucus layer. The saline spray maintains moisture in the nasal passage and prevents the crusty formation. Moreover, it thins the mucus and allows the patient to get rid of it by blowing it out.

How to Prepare Saline Nasal Spray at Home?

Mix 2 to 3 spoons of iodized salt with 1 quart of boiled/distilled/sterile water. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the solution and mix it well before using it and store it at room temperature. If the solution causes discomfort add more water to lower the concentration of salt. To use the solution, one needs a neti pot, bulb syringe or plastic squirt bottle.

How To Use The Spray?

  • Try to blow the nose to clear the passage
  • Shake the solution well before using it
  • Press a finger against one of the nostrils to block it
  • Place the hole at the top of the bottle under the open nostril and the thumb at the bottom of the pump bottle
  • Squeeze the pump and breathe it in gently, try to inhale the solution through the nostrils to the back of the head
  • Repeat the process for the other side as well


Sometimes the concentration of salt may be higher that could irritate the nasal passage. In such cases, water should be added to lower the concentration of salt. On other occasions, patients may start bleeding through their nose due to the presence of sodium. It is rare, but when it occurs discontinuing the use of the solution is the best option.

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