What is Sinus Spray?

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  • Written By: R. Anacan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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Sinus spray is a product that is applied in the nostrils to alleviate the symptoms of sinus or nasal ailments. Depending on the type of formulation and the intended use, sinus sprays may be purchased over the counter or may only be purchased with a doctor’s prescription. Over the counter sinus sprays can typically be found at stores that sell over the counter medications, while prescription medication can only be found at a pharmacy.

There are several common reasons why sinus spray is used. The first reason is to provide moisture to the nasal area and sinus cavity. When sinus passages lose moisture, they can become dry and irritated. Dry nasal conditions can contribute to more frequent nosebleeds and the formation of dried mucus in the nose, which can inhibit effective breathing.

Nasal sinus sprays used for moisturizing are generally made of a saline solution and are often referred to as saline sprays. Saline is basically a mixture of salt and water. The solution used in saline sprays is designed to mimic the body’s natural chemistry so that the saline sinus spray does not sting or irritate when applied. Most saline sprays are not habit-forming and can typically be used as often as needed.


Another common reason that people use a sinus spray is to relieve congestion caused by a cold, allergies, or sinusitis. These types of nasal sprays shrink nasal tissue that is swollen from a cold or allergy. Once applied, the user may experience relief of congestion symptoms almost immediately. The feelings of relief can last for hours.

The downside of decongestant sinus sprays, especially those with phenylephrine, oxymetazoline, naphazoline or chlorzoxazone as the active ingredient, is that prolonged use of decongestant sprays may lead to physical dependency. When a dependency is developed, many users find they are no longer able to keep their nasal passages clear without the use of a nasal spray, even after the original cause of the congestion has disappeared. This is often referred to as a rebound effect and can typically be avoided by using the product for no longer than the duration recommended by the manufacturer.

For those who have congestion and inflammation due to sinusitis, many doctors will recommend using a steroid sinus spray. A steroid spray does not create the type of dependency that a spray with phenylephrine, oxymetazoline, naphazoline or chlorzoxazone may cause. Steroid sprays do not generally provide the type of immediate relief from symptoms that many over the counter decongestant sprays do and may take a few weeks of use before providing relief. The main advantage with steroid sprays is that they enable those with long-term or chronic sinus conditions to use it for an extended period of time without the risk of dependency.



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