Posts tagged nasal congestion
Nasal sprays are one of the options which people have for using sinus medications, although they certainly aren’t the only options. To deal with the symptoms of congestion and facial pressure or headaches, there are several things which can be done, including home remedies as well as prescription medications. In this article, some of the options for dealing with sinus problems will be described, with special emphasis on nasal sprays as one of the most common treatment options.
Possible Options for Sinus Treatment
Treatments for sinus problems fall into three general categories, those being home remedies and over-the-counter medications, daily prescription sinus medications, and medications for sinus infections. The first group of treatment options starts with drinking more water, which is something that every sinus sufferer can do right at home.
If you can drink between eight and 12 glasses of water every day, it will help to thin out the material which needs to drain, and will improve your sinus function. For people using antihistamines or nasal sprays, this can be especially important, because those treatments will have the effect of drying out your throat and your nose, making hydration more important.
A second over-the-counter option is to use sinus rinses, usually comprised of distilled water and salt, and which you can easily prepare yourself. These are available in all drugstores as sinus rinse kits, and all you have to do is follow the instructions on the label in order to prepare your sinus rinse. The instructions will generally call for you to prepare your sinus rinse over a sink two times a day, those being in the morning after you wake up, and at night before you go to bed.
One thing that’s important to remember about using sinus rinses, is that they have to be used before you use any kind of antihistamine spray or nasal steroid, because otherwise these would be washed away, and would lose their positive effects.
One last thing you can do in the way of over-the-counter treatment is to purchase from your drugstore an antihistamine, of which there are several very effective name brands on the market, including Zyrtec, Mucinex, and Claritin-D.
The next category of sinus treatments are daily prescription sinus medications. Among the nasal steroid sprays, some of the most effective are Flonase, Omnaris, Veramyst, and Nasonex. Your doctor might also prescribe an antihistamine nasal spray such as Patanase or Astepro to deal with your sinuses. Another prescription treatment would be a combination antihistamine spray and steroid, such as Singulair or Dymista.
The last grouping of sinus treatments are those which are intended to deal with sinus infections. These include antibiotics, oral steroids such as prednisone, brand-name medications such as Sudafed or Afrin, and sinus rinses.
The Difference Between Over-the-Counter Sprays and Prescription Nasal Sprays
Some nasal steroids are available both as over-the-counter medications and as prescribed medications from your doctor. These are recommended to be used only for conditions which tend to be chronic in nature, for instance seasonal rhinitis or chronic sinusitis.
These kinds of sprays can help remediate many of the symptoms associated with those two conditions, including the runny nose, the itchy nose, the persistent sneezing and the congestion which is frequently experienced by a sufferer. In addition to sinus infections, these nasal sprays can also handle seasonal allergies and the symptoms of a common cold, although it usually requires up to two weeks of daily use before the maximum benefits of these sprays are realized.
Some over-the-counter nasal sprays take affect much more quickly, but these are only intended to be taken on a short-term basis. Such decongestants will ease any discomfort, and effectively reduce swelling in the nasal passageways, but should not be used for any more than about three days consecutively.
The medication in these nasal sprays actually causes tiny blood vessels, situated in the mucous membranes, to temporarily constrict, and that causes a temporary shrinkage in the nasal lining. This will immediately result in much better breathing and a general feeling of relief for the sinus sufferer.
The downside of this is that after a few days, the medication will wear off and those same blood vessels will then become severely congested, and that will require the use of more nasal spray, and on a much more frequent basis.
Can Nasal Sprays Become Addictive?
Given the description above, wherein the continued use of nasal sprays may lead to more frequent usage just to maintain the same level of free breathing, it’s natural to wonder whether such nasal sprays can become addictive.
According to the formal definition of addiction, that condition only occurs when a person is “enslaved to a habit or practice, or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma”.
Since over-the-counter nasal sprays contain no habit-forming ingredients whatsoever, and they do not trigger any of the cravings which are associated with addiction, they are not considered to be addictive drugs.
That being said, it is at least possible to develop an increased tolerance to nasal sprays over time, which means the nasal membranes become less responsive to the treatment. When that happens, you may find yourself using the nasal spray more frequently, in order to experience relief from congestion. While this is not a dangerous condition medically, it will probably become at least inconvenient, and it will of course become more costly for the patient.
Practically everyone has had to deal with a stuffy nose or nasal congestion as it is referred to medically, at various times throughout their life, and it’s never very pleasant. If it’s severe enough, it can make you feel like you can’t breathe through your nose, and must take in air through your mouth instead.
A stuffy nose can also make it difficult to get to sleep at night, it can trigger headaches, and if it persists long enough, it can leave you physically drained and fatigued from having to deal with it. Since the symptoms associated with nasal congestion can be fairly severe, it’s worthwhile to try and understand their causes, with an eye toward prevention, or at least remediation of the worst symptoms.
Causes of Nasal Congestion
Sometimes the delicate tissues inside your nose and the blood vessels which surround them can become swollen with excessive levels of fluid, and that’s the stuffy feeling people experience which feels like the nose is being blocked. Although there can be a discharge of fluid when this happens, a runny nose does not always accompany the stuffy sensation. Some of the most common causes for the stuffy nose feeling are the following:
- excessive usage of decongestants
- changes in hormone levels
- excessively dry air
- viruses and infections such as sinusitis, flu, and colds
- various kinds of allergies
- external irritants such as the smoke from tobacco, or from other airborne pollutants.
There are some other potential causes of runny noses which are less common, but still very possible:
- hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
- some kind of foreign agent lodged in the nose
- swollen adenoids
- some kind of structural blockage as from a tumor deviated septum or polyps
- vasomotor rhinitis
- non-allergic rhinitis.
There are some home remedies you can try for the relief of nasal congestion, and some of these can be fairly effective:
- try drinking lots of water so as to thin out the mucus
- blow your nose gently
- take hot showers, which allows steam to penetrate into nasal passages
- avoid cigarette smoke and all known polluted air
- don’t expose yourself to allergic triggers
- use nasal saline sprays
- use over-the-counter antihistamines
- when the affected persons are small children or babies, try using a bulb syringe to extract any nasal secretions.
When is Medical Attention Necessary?
While home remedies can be at least somewhat effective, there are times where they simply won’t do the job, and it becomes necessary to seek medical attention. If the nasal congestion condition persists for more than 10 days or if it becomes chronic, that’s a sign that home remedies are going to be insufficient for effecting a cure.
That’s when it’s time to call your doctor and make an appointment to have your nasal congestion examined, to determine the real cause of the problem and get some proper relief. There are other times when you shouldn’t wait for 10 days to elapse but should call your doctor right away because more pressing symptoms appear, and the level of urgency is increased.
Some of those situations include the following:
- for babies, when a stuffy nose is observed, and he/she refuses to nurse
- there is a recurring discharge of clear material following some kind of head trauma or injury
- when you observe blood in a nasal discharge
- your stuffy nose is accompanied by a high fever
- nasal discharge has a greenish or yellowish color and is accompanied by either a fever or severe sinus pains.
Treatments for Nasal Congestion
Some of the best treatments for nasal congestion are available over-the-counter without a prescription from your physician. Decongestants help to diminish the swelling and nasal passages, and they can ease that sensation of sinus pressure and stuffiness. There are a great many of these available over-the-counter, and whichever one you choose, you should carefully follow all directions printed on the label. You shouldn’t use an oral decongestant for longer than a week unless you have consulted with your doctor about it. Nasal decongestants should not be used for longer than three days, or they may end up contributing to your congestion instead of diminishing it. If you have any other health problems besides your nasal congestion, you should check with your doctor about the advisability of taking a decongestant.
Antihistamines are another effective medical tool for combating nasal congestion, particularly if your nasal congestion is due to an allergy. By controlling the allergy, all other symptoms should be relieved to some extent. When you go shopping for an antihistamine, look for one which relieves sneezing and sniffling, and which includes a decongestant to manage sinus pressure and the congestion itself. Some multi-symptom cold medications contain antihistamines to relieve the runny nose part of your problem.
If you are bothered by difficulty sleeping, it might be a good choice to purchase a night-time cold medicine, because these can help manage the symptoms effectively, so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
A third option for relief of symptoms surrounding nasal congestion is a pain reliever. These won’t do anything to help clear up congestion, but they can definitely diminish pains which are associated with sinus pressure. As with both decongestants and antihistamines, you should carefully read the printed instructions on the label before using.