Spray Your Way to Allergy Relief - An Alternative to Allergy Pills

  • Do you like to take pills? I don't, and I know I'm not alone in feeling that way. But when we have bothersome allergy symptoms, whether they occur year-round or just at certain seasons, it's a lot easier to accept the need for medicine.


    Still, taking pills presents some challenges at times:

    • If you're already taking other oral medicines, then adding something new might interact with the other pills in unexpected ways that can have annoying or even harmful side effects.

    • Allergy pills themselves can sometimes cause unwanted side effects.

    • Pills generally need to be taken with water and are easily crushed, lost, or contaminated if gotten wet, etc.

    So, here's an alternative to consider...

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    The good news is, allergy pills are not your only option! There are a number of nasal sprays available these days, and they are not only a highly effective alternative, they also present a number of advantages, including:

    • Nasal sprays act only on the nasal tissues where you spray them, so they can't interact as easily with oral medicines you may take.

    • They generally don't have a lot of side effects, other than some mild irritation (in some people) in the nasal tissues themselves. That usually subsides after a few doses, however.

    • Nasal sprays may be more effective than pills because they act specifically where the problem is, in your nasal tissues. Pills are swallowed into the digestive track, where they are then broken down and "ferried" to the inflamed tissues of your airways via your bloodstream. It's not as exact and it can take longer for the effects to be felt.

    So, are you starting to see how nasal sprays can be easier to accept than taking pills?


    Some Nasal Spray Options to Consider


    It's important to distinguish however between the different types of nasal sprays, so that you treat your nasal allergies safely.

    • Nasal decongestant sprays. These kinds of spray have been available for decades and are designed just to reduce nasal stuffiness, rather than treating nasal allergies. They can be dangerous and are not recommended for long-term or regular use. Dr. Thompson wrote an excellent post here on the dangers of this type of nasal spray.

    • Nasal antihistamine sprays. These are similar to oral antihistamines, except that they work only in the nose (and possibly for eye allergies too). Examples are Astelin and Patanase. They usually start working within 30 minutes and have very few side effects. Some of them are also available over the counter.

    • Nasal steroid sprays. These are considered the most effective nasal sprays for nasal allergies, but they also carry a slightly greater risk of side effects than the antihistamine sprays. Examples are Rhinocort Aqua, Flonase, Nasonex, and Nasacort AQ. These sprays must be prescribed by a doctor.

    If you think you'd like to try any of these nasal spray options, talk with your doctor first about the pros and cons and which option is best for you. If you do decide to go ahead with a nasal spray, then be sure to learn how to use it correctly. Otherwise, it may not work as well as expected. Read the instructions carefully.


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    In addition, a non-medication option that is working well for some people is a saline nasal wash or irrigation, such as the Neti Pot. The idea is to rinse allergens and mucus out of your nose with a salt water irrigation solution. It's a bit messy, but it's inexpensive and is non-medicinal.


    So, if taking allergy pills is not working for you, for whatever reason, consider the alternatives and spray your way to better health!

Published On: February 02, 2009