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Correct Way to Use Saline Nasal Spray

By Jason Brick ; Updated July 27, 2017

Saline nasal spray is a common treatment for sinus congestion caused by allergies or colds. Saline (salt water) breaks down mucus, allowing it to flow out of sinus cavities and out the nose or into the stomach. Using the spray correctly makes a big difference in how effective it will be in alleviating your symptoms. Keep the following things in mind to get the most out of your nasal-spraying experience.

Preparations

As you get ready to take your nasal spray, blow both nostrils vigorously, clearing out as much mucus as you can. This will allow the spray to move as far as possible up into your sinus cavities, thus providing as much relief as possible.

Do this with the cap already off the bottle. If you have a bad cold or allergies, your sinus cavities will start filling back up right away. The quicker you take your dose, the more good it will do.

Technique

Breathe out deeply before taking the spray. As you squeeze the bottle, inhale hard through your nose. This pulls the spray deeper into your sinus cavities, distributing the spray farther. Take one one two pulls per nostril.

In some frustrating cases, one sinus cavity will fill while you're treating the other. If your symptoms are severe, try blowing out and spraying each nostril individually, one after the other.

Some people report better results if they lean backwards, so the head is upside down, allowing gravity to help do the work.

Finishing Up

After you've taken the nasal spray, blow both nostrils vigorously. The mucous loosened by the spray will be ready to come out, leaving your sinus cavities clear if only temporarily.

As a courtesy to your housemates, be sure to wash the nozzle of your spray bottle after you've used it.

Frequency

The chief complaint about saline spray is that the relief doesn't last very long. The same factors that filled your sinus cavities in the first place start working immediately after you dose yourself.

Saline nasal spray contains no medications, so overdose isn't a concern as such. However, salt water can irritate mucous membranes if taken too much. If your sinus cavities become irritated, discontinue use for a time.

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