When you experience acute or chronic problems with nasal congestion or sinusitis, reaching for the wrong product could delay your improvement or contribute to worsening of symptoms. There are many products available to prevent some nasal symptoms and help ease your discomfort if problems occur.

Start With Saline Sprays

Saline sprays are an easy way to rehydrate your nasal passages. Having dry nasal passages can be due to use of medications, such as antihistamines, or being in a dry climate. When your nasal passages are dry they are more prone to irritation, swelling, and bleeding. Do not blow your nose immediately after using the product, just simply use a tissue to catch any saline that drips back out. As the saline drips back out, it can help clear any allergens or other irritants from your nose. After a minute or two, you can gently blow your nose. You might notice after using saline sprays, it is much easier to blow your nose without additional force. If you experience frequent sinus congestion and irritation, keeping your sinuses lubricated with saline sprays can decrease problems.

Consider Nasal Irrigation

An alternative to saline sprays is the use of nasal irrigation. One of the benefits of nasal irrigation is the saline reaches farther into your nasal and sinus passages, helping flush out allergens that could potentially contribute to a sinus infection. Never use nasal irrigation when you have a cold or a sinus infection. If you have any sinus pressure or congestion, it is safer to err on the side of caution and avoid nasal irrigation until the problem clears up. Any active infections could be pushed deeper into your sinus cavities by nasal irrigation, making them worse.

There are many types of containers used for nasal irrigation; some are shaped like a small watering can or a plastic squeeze bottle. No matter the type you use, make sure you clean the container after each use based on the manufacturer's instructions and allow it to dry thoroughly. A dirty and/or damp container may inject bacteria or mold into your sinuses. Also make sure you only use saline packets designed for nasal irrigation. These are specifically formulated to mimic your body's natural salt concentration, which prevents your nasal passages from burning during irrigation and properly hydrates the mucous membranes.

Use Topical Decongestants Sparingly

Any decongestant that is administered inside the nose is considered a topical decongestant. Ideally, you should only use topical decongestants for acute problems, such as a cold or sinus infection. Since these types of decongestants often cause rebound nasal congestion in as little as three days of use, they are not designed for chronic nasal problems. One benefit to using topical decongestants instead of oral formulations is they are less likely to disrupt your sleep, since they do not have a stimulant effect. When you are experiencing a stuffy nose, try using decongestant nasal sprays before bed. Using them once per day at night and relying on oral decongestants during the day will also help you decrease the likelihood of rebound congestion.

Try Nasal Steroids For Chronic Problems

Some conditions, such as chronic sinusitis, are best treated by retail or prescription nasal steroids. Start by trying the retail version to determine if you notice any improvement in your symptoms. In many cases, people with chronic sinus problems will need to take nasal steroids indefinitely, unless they have surgery to correct the underlying problem. If you do not notice adequate relief with retail products, your doctor may prescribe a stronger nasal steroid and refer you to a specialist to identify the underlying problem. Chronic sinus problems and recurrent infections are often caused by abnormalities within the sinus passages or benign nasal polyps. Both problems can prevent your sinuses from draining and contribute to infections.

Nasal symptoms due to colds, allergies, or sinus problems are a common concern. By knowing the right product to use based on your problem, you can find an effective way to manage your symptoms while minimizing side effects.