How we pick our products
Welcome to our large decongestant nasal spray test 2023. Here we present all the decongestant nasal sprays that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.
We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best decongestant nasal spray for you. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos.
Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to when buying a decongestant nasal spray.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best Decongestant Nasal Spray: Our Picks
- 3 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a decongestant nasal spray
- 3.1 Who is a decongestant nasal spray suitable for and who is it not suitable for?
- 3.2 Which decongestant nasal sprays are addictive and which are not?
- 3.3 From what age can my child use decongestant nasal sprays?
- 3.4 What are the side effects of decongestant nasal sprays?
- 3.5 What does a decongestant nasal spray do and how does it work?
- 3.6 Can I use decongestant nasal sprays during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
- 3.7 What are the alternatives to decongestant nasal sprays?
- 4 Decision: What types of decongestant nasal sprays are there and which is right for you?
- 5 Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate decongestant nasal sprays based on these factors
- 6 Facts worth knowing about decongestant nasal spray
- Decongestant nasal sprays make it easier for you to breathe through your nose. They can relieve the symptoms of hay fever, allergies, colds, sinusitis and middle ear infections.
- Most nasal sprays without decongestants are not addictive, according to the manufacturer.
- You can choose between two types of decongestant nasal sprays. There are decongestant nasal sprays that are suitable for long-term use and those that you should only use for a short time.
The Best Decongestant Nasal Spray: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a decongestant nasal spray
Then you’ve come to the right place, because we explain what you should look out for when buying decongestant nasal sprays.
Who is a decongestant nasal spray suitable for and who is it not suitable for?
Most people use decongestant nasal sprays to relieve the symptoms of a cold or flu.
But decongestant nasal sprays can do even more: they make life easier for many allergy sufferers during the pollen season. Steroid nasal sprays, for example, can provide relief from hay fever. If they are used regularly (!!), they reduce inflammation and swelling of the nasal mucous membranes. This can help relieve symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. (1)
Decongestant nasal sprays are also the right thing to do for other allergies, such as hay fever or allergies to animal hair. For example, some allergy sufferers can avoid swallowing histamine tablets thanks to decongestant nasal sprays.
If the swelling of your nasal mucous membranes is due to a (more severe) allergic reaction – e.g. hay fever – the decongestant preparations are often combined with other products such as antihistamines or leukotriene antagonists to intensify the effect. In particularly severe cases, doctors also resort to nasal corticosteroids. (2)
In various studies (e.g. (2)), prophylactic symptomatic treatment is recommended above all. This can be implemented especially well in allergy patients with seasonal rhinitis. In this way, the symptoms are treated at an early stage in order to attenuate them.
After certain nose operations, decongestant nasal sprays also help the wound to heal. It is important to know what type of nose job you had and how long ago it was done. It is best to discuss this with your surgeon.
Decongestant, disinfectant nasal sprays make it much harder for bacteria to multiply and polyps to recur. For example, perioperative systemic corticosteroids – anti-inflammatory drugs – are often used for nasal polyps. (3)
They are used both preoperatively and postoperatively when nasal polyps are operated on. Preoperative steroids reduce blood loss and make the operation easier. Postoperative steroids are often used to reduce the early return of nasal polyps and to protect against exacerbation of asthma. (3)
Decongestant nasal sprays are also frequently used for sinusitis or middle ear infections.
Decongestant nasal sprays help to loosen secretions and promote ventilation of the middle ear.
Which decongestant nasal sprays are addictive and which are not?
The only nasal sprays that have a decongestant effect without being addictive and without the risk of habituation are nasal sprays with pure saline solutions.
They are also known as nasal sprays with sea water or nasal sprays with saline solutions.
The most common decongestants in nasal sprays that can lead to addiction are:
Dependence on decongestant nasal sprays is caused by the so-called rebound effect.
The active ingredients in decongestant nasal sprays constrict the blood vessels in the nose and thus cause the nasal mucosa to swell.
However, when the effect of the nasal spray wears off, the blood vessels become even more perfused. This causes the nasal mucous membranes to swell more, so that you reach for the nasal spray again.
However, a scientific study (4) found that long-term treatment of the nasal mucous membranes with nasal sprays led to a significant decrease in the number of inflammatory cells in the nose. As a result, the test subjects sneezed less and their noses itched less than any of the control group. They also concluded that the efficacy of the processed preparations increased at the same time.
Nevertheless, one should be careful that the use of a nasal spray does not become an addiction. In addition, you should take a close look at the ingredients of the sprays.
From what age can my child use decongestant nasal sprays?
Therefore, we recommend that babies and infants use nasal sprays that consist exclusively of a saline solution and do not contain any decongestants.
A nasal aspirator is therefore also recommended for babies with a cold. Only from the second year of life do we recommend decongestant nasal sprays for infants or sprays specially designed for this purpose.
These do contain decongestants, but not in the same concentration as in decongestant nasal sprays for adults. The same applies to decongestant nasal sprays for children over the age of six. In most cases, children and adolescents from the age of six can use the same nasal sprays as adults.
The difference with nasal sprays for adults is that children and teenagers should use the nasal spray less often or diluted. In the table below you will find examples of decongestant nasal sprays for the appropriate age of your child.
|Nasal decongestant||age of child|
|Xylo-Mepha® 0.1%||adults and children 6 years and older|
|Nasic® for children||2 years to 6 years|
|Otrivin® Natural Baby (RHINOMER®)||15 days to 2 years|
What are the side effects of decongestant nasal sprays?
However, decongestant nasal sprays that contain decongestants can cause side effects.
The side effects range from addiction to increased blood pressure to hypersensitivity reactions. Local irritation, burning and dryness of the mucous membranes can also be a possible side effect.
Under certain conditions (e.g. belonging to a pre-diseased risk group), some preparations can lead to side effects of the various organ systems, including cardiac arrhythmia or a change in the blood count. However, these side effects mainly occur with orally or intravenously administered rhinological drugs. (5)
You should therefore always check the exact ingredients of the products, as the side effects can vary greatly from spray to spray. We recommend that you read the package leaflet before using a decongestant nasal spray You should also consult a doctor or pharmacist if you are using a stronger spray.
What does a decongestant nasal spray do and how does it work?
Seawater nasal sprays have a decongestant effect because the salt water flushes out secretions and thus reduces the swelling and pressure in the nose.
Many saltwater nasal sprays also contain ingredients that moisturise the nasal mucosa. This moisture effectively wards off bacteria and viruses.
Decongestant nasal sprays that contain decongestants, as already mentioned, lead to a constriction of the blood vessels, which reduces the blood supply to the nasal mucosa and causes it to swell for 6 to 8 hours.
Antihistamine nasal sprays have an anti-allergic effect. This means that they relieve symptoms that occur during an allergic reaction. These are often runny nose and swelling of the mucous membranes.
Cortisone nasal sprays, also known as cortisone nasal sprays or glucocorticoid nasal sprays, also have a local anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effect.
Their anti-inflammatory properties reduce the swelling of the inflamed nasal mucosa and make it easier for you to breathe.
Can I use decongestant nasal sprays during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
However, as there are always exceptions, we recommend that you take a look at the package leaflet to be sure.
It is still unclear for many decongestant nasal sprays that contain decongestant active ingredients what effects they have on pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Nasal sprays are often not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding, especially because of the vasoconstrictive effect, which can occur not only in the nose but anywhere in the body.
According to a scientific study (5), the indication of all rhinologic drugs should be strictly examined, especially for breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women (including children). This is because some nasal sprays can cause side effects, such as local irritation, burning or dryness of the mucous membranes.
They can also have effects on different organ systems or even change the blood count. Therefore, caution is advised with many nasal sprays during pregnancy! However, since there is a large number of rhinologic agents available, the optimal individual therapy should be selected taking into account the side effect profile. (5)
We recommend that you seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist or use pure seawater nasal sprays.
What are the alternatives to decongestant nasal sprays?
Another alternative, which is particularly suitable for allergy sufferers, is a steam bath with a saline solution. You can moisten your nasal mucous membrane with the steam. This quickly relieves the itching.
If you have a severe cold, you can also prepare a soup with plenty of chilli. The chilli makes your nose run so that bacteria are transported out of your body more quickly and you get rid of the cold as quickly as possible.
Decision: What types of decongestant nasal sprays are there and which is right for you?
You can generally choose between two types of nasal sprays.
- Decongestant nasal sprays for short-term use
- Decongestant nasal sprays for long-term use
The decongestant nasal sprays that are suitable for long-term use also include decongestant nasal sprays with pure saline solution.
What are the characteristics of nasal decongestants for short-term use and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
Short-term decongestant nasal sprays usually help you with colds in just a few minutes. This makes them very efficient, especially before going to bed.
In addition, short-term use of a maximum of one week is usually completely sufficient to relieve the symptoms of a mild cold. Because mild colds often subside after a few days.
Everyone knows it: When you have the flu or a cold, you often have no appetite, even though your body is weakened and you urgently need energy and should eat.
This is because our sense of smell is lost when our nose is blocked. Decongestant nasal sprays can be very helpful in this case to get your appetite back.
You can also try a cold bath as an alternative or in addition. The essential oils contained in the bath also help to clear the airways.
The biggest disadvantage of nasal decongestants is that they are not suitable for many allergy sufferers. This is because the pollen season usually goes on for longer than just one week.
In addition, the risk of addiction to decongestant nasal sprays with the active ingredients xylometazoline and oxymetazoline is significantly higher than with decongestant nasal sprays that you can use for a longer period of time.
Some decongestant nasal sprays made for short-term use do not contain nourishing ingredients. This can dry out and damage the nasal mucosa.
What are the characteristics of nasal decongestants for long-term use and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
Long-term nasal sprays have the advantage that they can be used for several weeks. This way you can survive the pollen season, which usually lasts several weeks.
In addition, nasal decongestants for long-term use are less addictive. They are even used to wean nasal spray addicts off them.
Decongestant nasal sprays with saline solution also have the big advantage that, according to the manufacturer, they cannot cause any side effects.
With some decongestant nasal sprays for long-term use, the decongestant effect only takes effect after a few days. This means that the symptoms are not always relieved immediately.
As decongestant nasal sprays with cortisone and antihistamine have only recently become available over the counter, you may not be able to buy them in all drugstores.
In addition, the decongestant effect of saltwater nasal sprays is often questioned.
This is because although the secretions and bacteria are flushed out of the nose, the decongestant effect usually does not last for several hours.
Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate decongestant nasal sprays based on these factors
In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide among the many possible decongestant nasal sprays.
The criteria you can use to compare decongestant nasal sprays are as follows:
- Suitable for allergic rhinitis
- May be addictive
- Nurturing effect
- Without preservatives
- Prescription required
In the following paragraphs, we will explain what the individual criteria are.
Suitable for allergic rhinitis
Basically, all decongestant nasal sprays that can be used for more than a week are suitable for hay fever.
If you see a decongestant nasal spray with the ingredients cortisone, cortisone or antihistamine, then you can generally assume that this decongestant nasal spray is suitable for allergy sufferers.
However, please read the package leaflet to be sure or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Nasal sprays containing salt water are also recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can use them several times a day and usually don’t have to worry about side effects or overdoses
Can be addictive
All decongestant nasal sprays that contain decongestants can be addictive.
If you find the active ingredients xylometazoline or oxymetazoline on the package insert, you should be careful.
Another feature that can tell you whether a decongestant nasal spray can trigger addiction is the duration of use.
Many decongestant nasal sprays that can be addictive should not be used for longer than a week.
Be careful not to use a nasal decongestant too early and unnecessarily. In addition, if you use the nasal spray for longer than five days, your nasal mucous membranes get used to it and need more and more of it to allow you to breathe again.
Cold air, dry air or repeated use of decongestant nasal sprays can dry out your nasal mucous membranes.
To prevent this from happening, many decongestant nasal sprays contain nourishing active ingredients.
Such nourishing ingredients in moisturising nasal sprays are:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Dexpanthenol, also known as pantothenol, dexapanthenol, provitamin B5 and panthenol
Decongestant nasal sprays that also moisturise your nose are especially recommended in the winter months.
In winter, our nasal mucous membranes dry out much faster than in summer.
Decongestant nasal sprays often contain preservatives to make them last longer and keep them free of bacteria.
The most commonly used preservative in decongestant nasal sprays is benzalkonium chloride.
This preservative is thought to cause allergies. Therefore, more and more manufacturers are doing away with the addition of preservatives.
Often, decongestant nasal sprays that contain solutions of sodium chloride (common salt) do not contain preservatives.
This is because bacteria can multiply poorly or not at all in seawater anyway.
Almost all decongestant nasal sprays are available without a prescription. The types of decongestant nasal sprays listed should be available at any pharmacy:
- Decongestant nasal sprays with salt water
- Decongestant nasal sprays with decongestants
The situation is different for decongestant nasal sprays that are specially made for allergy sufferers and contain cortisone or histamine.
Some pharmacies still require a prescription. So just call your pharmacy to find out if you need one.
Facts worth knowing about decongestant nasal spray
In the last section of this article, we will answer a few important questions about decongestant nasal spray and its use.
You’ll find out what to do if your decongestant nasal spray doesn’t work, where to dispose of it properly, and more.
My decongestant nasal spray is not working, what should I do?
If your breathing does not improve despite using a decongestant nasal spray, it may be because you have been using a nasal spray that does not contain decongestants but a saline solution.
If this is the case, we advise you to use decongestant nasal sprays containing decongestants such as xylometazoline or oxymetazoline as a temporary solution.
However, you should not use these for longer than a week. If this does not improve your symptoms, or if you need a decongestant nasal spray for a longer period of time, then consult a doctor or pharmacist as a precaution.
Where can I properly dispose of my decongestant nasal spray?
If your nasal spray is made exclusively of saline solution, you can dispose of it in the normal way, either in your waste glass or in your household waste.
If your decongestant nasal spray contains other active ingredients, you can take it back to the pharmacy and dispose of it there.
To find out for sure if your decongestant nasal spray contains other ingredients besides salt water, you can read the package leaflet. This will often tell you how to dispose of your nasal spray properly.
How do I get out of my nasal spray addiction?
Many people in Germany suffer from Privinism – the nasal spray addiction. But there are various ways to find a way out of this addiction.
If you have been addicted to nasal spray for less than half a year, we recommend the following tips to stop being dependent on decongestant nasal sprays.
- Spray only one nostril with the nasal spray.
- Use a lower dose of nasal spray. This works best with nasal sprays for children.
- Use non-swelling, natural-based nasal sprays. An example of this is the nasal spray RC-Care ®N.
If you have been addicted to nasal decongestants for more than half a year, many experts recommend going cold turkey.
If you have already tried it on your own, but you just can’t get rid of the addiction, you can always contact your family doctor and ask for help.
Doctors often know best how to deal with addiction and know good ways out.
How do I use a decongestant nasal spray correctly?
- Clean the nose.
- Remove the protective cap.
- Hold the nasal spray vertically and pump several times until the spray comes out.
- Hold the decongestant spray in the nostril, spray once and inhale gently.
- Repeat the procedure for the other nostril.
- Tilt your head back slightly.
- Clean the tip of the nasal spray with clean tissue.
- Replace the protective cap on the nasal spray.
(Photo source: 123rf.com / 90268416)
NHS. Steroid nasal sprays. Last review: 01/2020.
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Mladina Ranko, Ferguson Berrylin J. Cortison Therapy in Nasal Polyposis. In: Nasal Polyposis (Önerci T., Ferguson B.). 2010; pp 199-206.
Holm A. F., Godthelp T., Fokkens W.J. et al. Long-term effects of corticosteroid nasal spray on nasal inflammatory cells in patients with perennial allergic rhinitis. Clin Exp Allergy. 1999 Volume Oct 29(10), pp 1356-66.
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