Understanding Nasal Sprays

Editor's note: Always consult your doctor before starting any medication or if you have any questions.

As an asthma expert, I'm well aware that many asthmatics grapple with nasal issues, often relying on one or more nasal sprays. Interestingly, a similar trend surfaces in the COPD community, where many individuals also contend with nasal problems, leading many to embrace nasal sprays.

As a seasoned respiratory therapist, my expertise predominantly lies in inhalers, a realm I've navigated since I was introduced to my first inhaler in 1980. However, my foray into nasal sprays began more recently. Despite my professional background, I find myself in unfamiliar territory, as nasal sprays are typically administered by nurses.

Questions about using nasal sprays

Upon receiving my first nasal spray a few years ago, my ENT offered some guidance. Now, having been prescribed three nasal sprays over the past three years, I've embarked on a quest to deepen my understanding of these medications and their proper usage.

So, I wrote down five questions and posed them to my ENT. Here is what I learned.

Should you blow your nose before using them?

My doctor said you should clear out your nose by blowing it prior to using your nasal sprays. If your nose remains blocked, he recommends squirting salt water or ocean spray nasal spray into your nose.

This helps to moisten and thin secretions in your nasal passages, helping to clear them out. You can also use a netty pot, which accomplishes the same thing.

There may also be other products on the market. Regardless of what you use, the goal is to make your nasal passages as open as possible before using your prescribed nasal sprays.

How do you position the spray bottle into your nose?

He said you should exhale. He says to hold the nasal spray into your nose and point it up so that the spray has a clear passage through your nasal passages.

I put part of that last sentence in bold as that is the part my doctor emphasizes every time I see him. He said this would help me get the most benefit from the medicine, assuring that it gets up deep into my nasal passages. Then, you squirt the inhaler as you inhale deeply.

I find it simpler to answer this question by spraying all my nasal sprays back-to-back. Then I blow my nose after ten minutes. This looks too simple. So I asked the physician.

Can you squirt them all one after another without waiting?

He said you should only use one nasal spray at a time. Blow your nose, spray the nasal spray into each nostril. Then wait ten minutes before blowing your nose and using your second nasal spray.

Wait ten minutes before using the third nasal spray. This will allow you to get the most out of each nasal spray.
If you just spray one after the other, you risk one spray washing out the other, meaning you risk not getting their full effect.

What order should I use them?

It would be best to start with ipratropium bromide. It dries out mucus and may help clear your nasal passages. Then I'd take your other nasal sprays.

This makes sense, considering he initially prescribed ipratropium bromide to keep my nose from running. I have a history of my nose running when I'm eating warm foods.

His initial prescription was to use it just prior to eating, as it can work rather fast. Now that I'm taking it every day, it makes sense to use it before my other nasal sprays.

Sharing nasal spray experiences

Do you have a history of nasal issues? Are you prescribed nasal sprays? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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