Although nasal sprays can reduce the symptoms of allergies and nasal congestion, they are not always the best solution. Using a decongestant nasal spray, for example, can cause rebound congestion and a reduction in efficacy after three days, according to the Mayo Clinic website. People interested in alternatives to nasal sprays have many alternatives. Lifestyle modifications, saline solution and oral medications can all effectively reduce nasal congestion and allergy symptoms without the use of nasal spray.
People looking for an alternative to medicated nasal sprays may consider using a homemade saline solution to loosen mucus ease their nasal congestion. People can create a saline solution by placing 1/4 tsp of salt in 1/2 cup of warm water. While lying down, they can then use an eyedropper or other tool to put the solution into the nose.
Making simple lifestyle changes can also temporarily relieve nasal symptoms without the need for nasal spray. People with nasal congestion should get plenty of rest and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluid, including chicken broth, hot tea or water, explains Medline Plus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health. Since lying down often exacerbates nasal congestion, keeping upright as much as possible can also help. This may include propping up the head with pillows at night while sleeping. Finally, using a humidifier or vaporizer moistens the air, which also loosens mucus and alleviates nasal stuffiness.
Histamine is the chemical in the body responsible for congestion, sneezing and runny nose and itching. Oral antihistamine drugs block this chemical, which reduces these symptoms. Oral antihistamines include the medications loratadine, cetirizine, clemastine, fexofenadine, diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine. All oral antihistamines may cause dry mouth or drowsiness. Older generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine, shouldn't be given to children or older adults, notes the Mayo Clinic website.
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The American Academy of Otolaryngology explains nasal and sinus congestion often occurs due to expanded, swollen or dilated blood vessels. Oral decongestants shrink these blood vessels and opens up the air passages. Most oral decongestants include the medication pseudoephedrine, which is a stimulant. This medication can be potentially dangerous when taken with certain other medications or for people with high blood pressure or other health problems.
Corticosteroid medications block allergic reactions, and include prednisone and prednisolone. Since corticosteroids cause many short and long term side effects, the Mayo Clinic website notes they are generally only prescribed for short time periods.
Elizabeth Wolfenden has been a professional freelance writer since 2005 with articles published on a variety of blogs and websites. She specializes in the areas of nutrition, health, psychology, mental health and education. Wolfenden holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in counseling from Oakland University.