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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best allergy relief nasal sprays

Last Updated November 2019

An allergy relief nasal spray can help you tackle your allergy symptoms. These dispersal sprays are used locally for hayfever, allergies, and sinusitis. People suffering from these conditions often prefer the convenience and ease of administering their medication via nasal spray over taking pills or receiving allergy shots.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies or hayfever (allergic rhinitis), perennial allergies (non-allergic rhinitis), or sinusitis, you may often find yourself seeking relief from congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny noses, and red, watery, irritated eyes. Over the counter (OTC) allergy relief nasal sprays can help relieve these bothersome symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Allergy relief nasal sprays are easy to keep handy, as they’re packaged small enough to carry in a pocket or purse. Read on to learn more about nasal sprays and whether they might prove beneficial for relieving your repetitive ear, eye, nose, and throat discomfort. When you are ready to purchase, consider our recommended products.

Nasal sprays can relieve many of your allergy symptoms, including sneezing and nasal congestion.

Key considerations

It is impossible to remain indoors all the time, even when the air is dusty, smoky, or laden with pollen. If seasonal allergies spoil your time in nature, your healthcare provider can recommend an OTC allergy relief nasal spray to relieve symptoms. Look for a product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the majority of medications promising allergy relief.

Types of nasal sprays

In both indoor and outdoor environments, humans are exposed to potential allergens daily. Encountering pollen, ragweed, pet dander, or dust mites, our bodies generate histamines. Histamines cause nasal passage to swell, causing congestion, eyes to tear, and noses to run. In some cases, hives, an itchy rash, or an itchy mouth may occur as an allergic response. There are two types of nasal sprays used to treat a histamine reaction: antihistamine and corticosteroid.

1. Antihistamine

Antihistamines compete for receptor sites, blocking the function of histamine and reducing inflammation. While there is a wide range of medications useful in the treatment of allergies, including allergy shots and steroids, healthcare practitioners advise that the first line of defense should be to try an OTC antihistamine. Antihistamine nasal sprays include:

  • Levocabastine hydrochloride

  • Olopatadine hydrochloride

  • Azelastine hydrochloride
     

Some allergy relief nasal sprays with decongestants, in combination with antihistamines, are available over the counter. Antihistamines alone do not affect nasal congestion. When using decongestant allergy relief nasal sprays for more than a few days, you may experience a rebound effect, and your nasal congestion may worsen. Decongestants are most effective when used short-term.

2. Corticosteroid

Corticosteroid nasal sprays relieve the symptoms of sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, non-allergic (perennial) rhinitis, and hay fever by reducing histamine production and inflammation in the nasal passages. You can purchase mild corticosteroids over the counter; stronger formulations are only available by prescription. Corticosteroid nasal sprays may include:

  • Beclomethasone dipropionate

  • Flunisolide

  • Fluticasone furoate

  • Fluticasone propionate

  • Mometasone

  • Triamcinolone acetonide

  • Budesonide

  • Ciclesonide
     

Active ingredients used in OTC allergy relief nasal sprays may appear on package information as triamcinolone acetonide or fluticasone propionate.

In may take several days for a corticosteroid nasal spray to start working, and it must be used daily throughout the allergy season to provide continual symptomatic relief.

Used to calm inflammation, a corticosteroid is not an anabolic steroid. However, any steroid taken for extended periods can produce unpleasant side effects. If you spray and spray all day, you may be overusing your allergy relief nasal spray. Long-term use of corticosteroid allergy relief nasal sprays can cause headaches, stinging and burning nasal passages, nosebleeds, and eye conditions such as cataracts.

DID YOU KNOW?

Antihistamines block or reduce histamines, stopping allergy symptoms.

DID YOU KNOW?

Antihistamine side effects can include confusion, blurred vision, dizziness, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, painful urination, and dry mouth.

DID YOU KNOW?

Antihistamines can interact with other medications you are taking. Read the label before using a nasal spray.

Features

Coverage: When shopping for an over-the-counter nasal spray, you may want to look for one that blocks multiple allergens, not just one. This holds particularly true for those who are allergic to multiple things.

Duration: Some nasal spray dosages last longer than others. For convenience, you may want to opt for a nasal spray that promises 24-hour relief of allergy symptoms. However, it’s wise to consult your physician first, as a 24-hour dosage may be stronger than a shorter-acting dosage.

Size: OTC allergy relief nasal sprays are available for purchase in 0.5 ml, 0.68 ml, and 0.8 ml size plastic or glass spray bottles.

Fast and effective

Free of scent and alcohol, this spray is an easy-to-use mist that won't sting and doesn't include any drowsiness warnings.

Allergy relief nasal spray prices

The cost of allergy relief nasal sprays varies based on brand and ingredients.

In the lower range, expect to pay $3 to $5 for a 0.5 ml bottle.

Mid-range allergy relief nasal sprays sell for $8 to $12.

Name brands in the higher price range cost between $15 and $24 for a 0.5 ml spray bottle.

Non-drowsy, non-habit forming

Zicam soothes congestion, eases sinus pressure, dries watery eyes, and provides immediate relief from sneezing, runny nose, and headache.

Tips

  • If antihistamine nasal sprays cause drowsiness, use them before bedtime.

  • Store nasal sprays at room temperature. Do not allow the medication to freeze or overheat.

  • Nasal sprays boast an advantage over pills or injections in that they are applied locally at the source rather than traveling throughout the body.

  • When using allergy relief nasal sprays for children, read the directions carefully. Some formulations are safe for children as young as two years of age. Other nasal spray formulas offer different dosage recommendations for children from two to 12 years of age.

  • Allergies can trigger or worsen asthma, ear infections, and sinus infections in both children and adults.

  • Safe and effective, drug-free OTC saline nasal sprays help relieve allergy symptoms for children and adults.

  • If your nasal congestion, sneezing, and wheezing are chronic and do not change with the season, it’s likely your problem is not an allergy. Consult your physician.

Other products we considered

In addition to our top choices, we also recommend these medications. Afrin No Drip Severe Congestion Pump Nasal Mist Twin Pack is an excellent value and an effective nasal spray for severe congestion. The fast-acting, non-drowsy formulation calms allergy symptoms for long-lasting suppression of seasonal stuffiness.

Vicks Sinex Severe Original Nasal Spray Decongestant 0.5 oz (Pack of 2) brings powerful sinus congestion relief in seconds so you can breathe freely. No more stuffy nose or watery eyes.

Allergens enter our bodies through our noses, triggering an immune system response. OTC nasal sprays work well in providing symptomatic relief. However, they cannot relieve every symptom.

FAQ

Q. What is the most common allergen that causes sneezing and nasal congestion?

A. Pollens are the most common allergy trigger for people and pets in North America. You may suffer from pollen allergies if you share an environment with flowering plants, grass, or trees. Airborne pollen allergens are most challenging from mid-spring through autumn when plants are blooming and pollen is inhaled.

Q.  Do nasal sprays have a taste or smell?

A. Allergy relief nasal sprays may have a slight menthol or "minty" taste and smell.

Q,  Are allergy relief nasal spray addictive?

A. When your eyes are red and your nasal passages congested, the right allergy relief nasal spray can provide fast-acting relief. Because allergy relief nasal sprays are available over the counter, most folks assume they can use them freely without risk. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure; the answer depends on the type of allergy relief nasal spray you use.

Some OTC nasal sprays are safe for daily use. However, others can cause "nasal spray addiction" in a matter of days. Nasal sprays can cause long-term swelling of the nasal passages, which leads to more and more use. A long term dependency can lead to surgery to correct nasal passage abnormality.

No one likes to feel congested, so some people reach for an allergy relief nasal spray at the first sign of congestion. This action creates another problem as your symptoms may not be an allergic reaction, but rather the early stage of a cold or influenza.

Q.  If I don't want to use a nasal spray containing medication, will a saline nasal spray help my allergy symptoms?

A. OTC saline allergy relief nasal sprays loosen mucus in the nasal passage without medication or side effects. Saline nasal sprays contain only salt (sodium chloride) and sterilized water. Non-addictive saline nasal sprays have no side effects, so you can use them daily as needed.

The team that worked on this review
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Marlene
    Marlene
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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