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Are You Misusing Your Throat and Nasal Sprays? Find Out Now!

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Recently, patients complaining about sore and uncomfortable throats are increasing. If the throat is still itchy and sore despite drinking plenty of water and taking cold medicine, is inevitable to use throat and nasal sprays indiscriminately? While these sprays may be useful in alleviating discomfort, if used incorrectly, they can make the throat and nose even worse than before usage.

The Effect of Throat Sprays

Throat sprays work differently than oral medications for sore throats. Throat sprays wash off bacteria or viruses attached to the throat surface, similar to washing off contaminants when taking a shower. By washing and diluting the bacteria attached to the mucous membrane, they help prevent inflammation.

They don’t directly affect bacteria or viruses

However, these throat sprays do not directly solve throat infections. Therefore, throat sprays are more effective in the early stages of a cold or when the throat is slightly sore and scratchy. Only oral medications for sore throats can directly act on the bacteria or viruses causing the infection, alleviating symptoms such as fever and pain. If the throat infection has progressed to a certain extent, sprays should only be used as a supplementary treatment.

What if it contains iodine?

Check ingredients before using throat spray. If iodine is the main ingredient, it can be helpful for people who need to treat early-stage throat infections, bad breath, oral inflammation, or require oral disinfection. However, it should not be used by thyroid patients as it can cause hyperthyroidism. These individuals would benefit from using throat sprays containing azulene and Cetylpyridinium chloride.

Long-term use is not advised

Even though those throat sprays could show effective results, long-term usage is not advisable. Generally, it is recommended not to use it for more than a week. Unnecessary use of throat sprays can dry out the mouth and throat, eliminate the normal bacteria in the mouth, cause the growth of fungus, and increase the risk of secondary infections.

Be careful not to expose windpipe

Be aware of the correct usage when spraying a throat spray. As the throat is connected to the windpipe, there is a risk that the solution could accidentally enter the windpipe. To use it safely and prevent the solution from entering the windpipe, make an Ah sound while spraying to exhale and prevent the solution from going down the wrong way.

Don’t spray before driving

Also, be careful when driving after using a throat spray. Especially a throat spray containing alcohol could the driver to be detected as drunk. Make sure to carefully check the ingredients of the throat spray before driving.

Nasal sprays can develop resistance

There are many types of nasal sprays, and among them, over-the-counter decongestants pose a high risk of developing resistance. These sprays contain ingredients like phenylephrine and oxymetazoline and, while they are not steroid-based, using them for more than a week can damage the autonomic nerves, causing rebound rhinitis and other resistance problems where the body no longer responds to the medication.

What if it doesn’t seem effective?

As mentioned before, if you develop rebound rhinitis, your symptoms will not improve even with the use of medication. If you’ve been consistently using a nasal spray for about 4 to 5 days and it doesn’t seem effective, you should quickly visit a hospital and receive treatment from a specialist. To spray without these side effects, avoid overuse and only use it once when your nose is severely blocked and you can’t sleep. Reducing the frequency of use can help.

You should take a break

You should adhere to the maximum daily use of medication and avoid using it continuously for more than a week. It is essential to take a break. During the break, using hypertonic products can help the moisture in the nasal mucosa move naturally, which can somewhat alleviate nasal congestion. While it may be difficult to expect quick results like medication, it has significant improvement effects on runny nose, sneezing, and eye irritation, and is recommended by experts.

Saline sprays can also help

For young children and infants, it is recommended to use non-medicated nasal spray products for nasal health care. These sprays, made of saline, moisturize the nasal mucosa and remove waste through nasal irrigation. Since the saline concentration is similar to that of the human body, it is less burdensome and can be used daily without any issues.

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