Monday, February 17, 2014

What Should You Know About Over the Counter Nasal Steriods?

The next time you’re at the local pharmacy, you may be surprised to see your prescribed allergy nasal spray available over-the-counter. Many drug manufacturers are pushing for this move to make finding relief easier for some of the 50 million Americans with allergies. But this warrants caution for some. 

Before you use these over the counter medication, what should you know about over the counter nasal steroids? 

1) Is it safe? Not only can the new nasal allergy spray relieve congestion, sneezing and a runny nose, it also does not cause drowsiness and is non-habit forming.  Improper use of nasal sprays may cause nasal bleeding and in worse case scenario a hole in your nose.   Follow the package instructions and inform your allergist if bleeding and/or irritation occurs.

2) If I'm controlled with this nasal spray, why should I still see an Allergist?  
  • Allergies and asthma are serious diseases and self medicating may not be the best way of controlling your symptoms. 
  • Getting testing for allergies and instituting environmental controls are powerful ways to prevent allergies without using medication.  An allergist is the best person to advise you on this.  Many allergy sufferers that have year-round allergies to pets, dust and mold often find nasal sprays are not enough for symptom relief. Many allergists prescribe immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots), which not only provides symptom relief, but can modify and prevent disease progression.
  • Asthma is a disease commonly found in people with allergies in their nose.  An allergist can screen you for this. 
3) Can I stop antihistamines? If you find solely using the nasal allergy spray is helping to suppress your symptoms, you may not need to take an antihistamine. Each person is different and they will have to be the judge of how they feel only using one medication. However, if you’re not finding relief from one or both medications, you should speak with your allergist.

4) Is it safe to give my child?
The medication is approved for children two-years and older. But it may complicate some infections your child might have, so check with your allergist.

5) Can it be used year-round?
Yes, it is approved for year-round use.  As with any over the counter medication, you should speak with your doctor about long term use.

6) Will my insurance cover it?
It is unlikely your insurance provider will cover over-the-counter nasal allergy sprays, even if it was covered when it was prescribed.

7) Do I need to continue following up with my allergist?
Allergy sprays are a band aid approach to allergies and only control symptoms.  They do not a cure for allergy. Because allergies can change over time, it’s important to be under the care of an allergist for proper testing, diagnosis and treatment that may go beyond over-the-counter medications. Allergies can also cause symptoms such as chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion or difficulty breathing.

Need more help controlling your allergies?  Please call 212-679-3574 or click here to schedule an appointment online. 



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