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 June 6, 2003
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Unclogging Your Nose
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SATURDAY, May 24 (HealthScoutNews) -- When you're nosing around drug store shelves for a nasal spray to blast through those clogged nostrils, it can be difficult to decide which one is best for you.

When it comes to over-the-counter (OTC) nasal sprays, you should know there are different kinds: non-medicated nasal saline sprays and medicated nasal decongestant sprays.

Nasal saline sprays can be used for all types of nasal problems, says the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Saline nasal sprays create added moisture, which reduces thick nasal secretions and helps remove infection-causing agents.

Apply the nasal saline spray as a mist to your nose up to six times a day. You can't get addicted to nasal saline, which you can make at home. Talk with your otolaryngologist for details on how to do that.

The other kind of nasal sprays are medicated nasal decongestant sprays. These sprays decongest swollen nasal membranes and clear nasal passages almost immediately after you use them. They're useful for treating the early stages of the common cold or viral infection.

They're also effective in stopping the progression of sinus infections that may appear after you have a cold. Medicated nasal decongestant sprays also prevent problems in your eustachian tube, which connects your middle ear and pharynx, when you're flying.

Nasal decongestant sprays are safe but should only be used for three to five consecutive days. Prolonged use of these sprays can cause rebound congestion and/or you may get hooked on them.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has information about the correct use of nasal sprays that come in pressurized canisters and pump bottles.

--Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

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