25 Mar 2022 |

Should I be using a nasal spray?

Should I be using a nasal spray?

Did you know that having an itchy, runny, or blocked nose can make your Asthma worse?

One of the most common reasons we see people struggling to control their asthma is having Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever) which is poorly controlled.

Of course, the best way to avoid these symptoms is to avoid your triggers, but this is not always possible. You may not always be aware of what your triggers are, or they may be difficult to avoid such as bushfire smoke in the NT in dry season! (More information on common triggers coming soon)

The next best thing is not to ignore the symptoms. To help you control your asthma better you need to treat your nasal symptoms effectively.

We realise this can be a bit tricky sometimes with the myriad of products available, so we have put together a simple guide of what to use and when.

The big question now is “how should I use nasal sprays and what type is right for me?

The four main types are:

  • Sinus Irrigation aka Nasal flush
  • Steroids
  • Saline (nasal spray-different to saline irrigation)
  • Decongestants

Nasal Steroid Sprays

  • More effective than an antihistamine - Usually one of the first-line therapies for allergies.
  • Reduce inflammation within the nasal passages.
  • Continuous daily use will prevent your upper airways from reacting to triggers therefore it is important to use them DAILY.
  • The way in which you use it (technique) can affect its effectiveness. If you are unsure about technique, contact 1800 ASTHMA.
  • They do NOT provide immediate relief.
  • Many of these sprays are available over the counter - others need a GP prescription.

Nasal Irrigation aka Nasal flush

  • Reduces trigger load in the upper respiratory tract by washing away pollen, mucous crust, dirt, and other allergens from your sinuses and nasal passages.
  • Can provide soothing relief if you are experiencing nasal dryness.
  • An excellent way to help reduce nasal swelling, shrinking mucous membranes, thus improving your ability to breathe.
  • Improves your ability to breathe by reducing nasal swelling.
  • Relieves nasal congestion by increasing the flow of mucous thus providing clear sinus passages.
  • Thins excess mucus in the nose and sinuses which can ease nasal and sinus congestion and discomfort.
  • We recommend using these prior to using a steroid nasal spray as they clear the nasal passages and help the nasal spray work more effectively
  • Can be bought over the counter.

Saline (saltwater solutions)

  • Can improve the effectiveness of medicated nasal sprays when the nasal saline is used first. Nasal irrigation is preferred and generally more effective however if for some reason you cannot do a nasal irrigation these are an alternative.
  • Helps to wash out viruses, allergens, and irritants in the nose.
  • Cleans and hydrates nasal tissues which is important for the maintenance of nasal immunity.
  • Can be bought over the counter.


  • Unblock blocked noses.
  • Provide immediate but short-term relief.
  • Should only be used for a short period of time (less than 3 days) as they can cause a "rebound congestion" making your blocked nose worse.
  • Can be bought over the counter.

Hopefully this has cleared up most of your questions. If you are still confused or need more information about your specific circumstances, please fill out the contact form and one of our friendly Respiratory Health Educators will be happy to assist.

Contact AFNT (asthmant.org.au)

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