Proper Use of Nasal Sprays

In our experience, the number one reason that nasal sprays "don't work" is that they never make it to the surfaces of the nasal lining that are swollen. The reason? Most people mistakenly think that looking up and sniffing in will get the medication more deeply into the nasal passages. Instead, this causes the medication to flow back along the base of the nasal passage, dripping down the throat, and missing the swollen nasal tissues completely!

So, to get the most out of your nasal spray, you need to get it to the swollen nasal lining. There are three ledges of bone called "turbinates" that are covered with sponge tissue. This is what swells when you have a stuffy nose. Use direction of the spray, position of your head, and gravity to help get the medication where it belongs:

  1. Look straight ahead, or slightly downward (NOT UPWARD!)
  2. Place tip of nasal spray bottle at the opening of one nostril, angled slightly outward.
  3. Aim spray "up and out" towards the outer corner of your eye.
  4. Hold your breath or very gently inhale while spraying. (Do NOT inhale sharply -- this will just direct the flow of liquid medication down the back of your throat where it will be annoying, and not help your nasal congestion!)
  5. Massage sides of the nose including up toward the bridge of the nose, once medication has been delivered. This will help move the medication up under swollen tissues.
  6. Repeat on the other side.
  7. If there is excess liquid medication in your nose after this, let gravity help the medication reach the swollen areas. Lean forward till the top of your head is directed toward the ground, then tip your head to the right and hold for about 10 seconds -- then to the left and hold again.
  8. After 1-2 minutes, or if fluid is draining down your throat, you may blow your nose to get rid of excess fluid.