Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big nasal spray test 2021. Here we present all the nasal spray products that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best nasal spray for you. You will 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 be aware of when buying a nasal spray.




The most important facts

  • The nasal spray is used as soon as cold-related or allergic rhinitis occurs. The nasal spray has a decongestant effect, relieves the symptoms and makes breathing easier.
  • You can choose between decongestant nasal sprays with the active ingredients oxymetazoline or xylometazoline or natural nasal sprays based on herbal or mineralised salt water solutions. Depending on the type of nasal spray, there may be side effects and potential risk of addiction.
  • You can compare different nasal sprays for their ingredients. There are also some that are especially suitable for allergy sufferers and some that are not addictive.

The Best Nasal spray: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a nasal spray

What do I need a nasal spray for?

We use nasal sprays for a blocked or runny nose. This can be caused by a cold, but also by allergies. The disease of the upper respiratory tract has consequences:

  • An increased production of secretions
  • The nose starts to run
  • The nasal mucosa becomes swollen
  • Breathing becomes difficult

This is, of course, very distressing, especially at night, and interferes with sleep. The most common nasal sprays contain sympathomimetics (e.g. oxymetazoline or xylometazoline) as active ingredients. The blood vessels in the nasal mucosa contract and the nasal mucosa becomes less swollen. This makes it easier for you to breathe again.

One of the most popular products for a cold is a nasal spray. You can choose from a variety of nasal sprays, which differ mainly in their ingredients. (Image source: pixabay.com / ThorstenF)

However, it is important to note that these nasal sprays may only be used a maximum of 3 times a day for a maximum of 7 days. Otherwise, side effects and even addiction can occur. However, there are also natural nasal sprays based on seawater. These also have a decongestant effect and can be used indefinitely. As far as is known, these have no side effects.

What alternatives are there to a nasal spray?

There are many alternatives to nasal spray. The most popular are nasal irrigation and inhalation. But there are also alternative drug-free methods like accupressure. You can also choose from several groups of nasal sprays. These include natural nasal sprays and prescription cortisone nasal sprays, both of which are especially suitable for allergy sufferers. Depending on which nasal spray you choose, there are different advantages and disadvantages.

Nasal douche

You can use a saline solution or a special nasal rinsing salt to rinse secretions out of your nose and loosen mucus.

Steam bath and inhalation

A saline solution is also used here. The steam moistens your nasal mucosa and relieves itching.

Spicy food (e.g. chilli)

The spiciness makes your nose run. The bacteria leave your body and shorten the cold.

Accupressure

Here you press your tongue against the roof of your mouth for a second. At the same time, press your index and middle finger on your forehead between your eyebrows. Repeat this 10 to 20 times.

Decision: What types of nasal spray are there and which is the right one for you?

What distinguishes a decongestant nasal spray with the active ingredients xylometazoline or oxymetazoline and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The best-known nasal sprays with a decongestant effect include those with the following active ingredients:

  • Xylometazoline
  • Oxymetazoline
  • Phenylephrine
  • Tuaminoheptane

These nasal sprays have a strong and rapid effect that lasts for about 6 to 8 hours. Symptoms are effectively relieved, breathing is easier and restful sleep is possible.

Advantages
  • Strong and fast decongestant effect
  • Reduction of symptoms
  • Breathing more freely
  • Prescription-free
Disadvantages
  • Limitation of use
  • Rebound effect
  • Possible side effects
  • Possible risk of addiction

However, these nasal sprays may also only be used a maximum of 3 times a day for a maximum of 7 days.

What distinguishes a natural-based nasal spray and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

A natural nasal spray works either on a plant basis or on a mineralised salt solution basis. These nasal sprays do not fight the cause of the disease, but relieve the symptoms and provide preventive care. These nasal sprays have no side effects and can be used for longer than 7 days.

Advantages
  • Continuous use possible
  • Bacteria have a harder time settling due to the moistening of the mucous membranes
  • Easier breathing
  • No side effects
  • No risk of addiction
  • Suitable for allergy sufferers
Disadvantages
  • Possibly milder effect
  • Does not help with already existing bacteria
  • Rather preventive effect

The natural nasal sprays are especially suitable for allergy sufferers and also have no risk of addiction.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate nasal sprays

There are many different nasal sprays. To help you compare and find the most suitable one for your needs, we have listed and described some criteria here:

  • Ingredients
  • Suitable for allergy sufferers
  • Nasal spray that is not addictive

Ingredients

Based on the ingredients, you can divide the nasal sprays into 3 groups:

  1. Decongestant nasal sprays (active ingredient xylometazoline or oxymetazoline)
  2. Natural nasal sprays
  3. Prescription nasal sprays (with cortisone)

Decongestant nasal sprays (active ingredient: xylometazoline or oxymetazoline)

The most common nasal sprays have a decongestant effect and have the following active ingredients.

  • Xylometazoline
  • Oxymetazoline
  • Tuaminoheptane
  • Phenylephrine

With these active ingredients, you must note that the nasal spray must not be used for longer than 7 days. Otherwise, there are strong side effects and a risk of addiction.

You can clear your nose quickly with decongestant nasal sprays. (Picture source: 123rf.com / hootie2710)

Natural nasal sprays

In addition to these nasal sprays, there are also natural nasal sprays. These are usually based on herbs or seawater and do not contain any of the active ingredients mentioned above. They are therefore free of side effects and can be used as often and for as long as necessary. Here are some examples of natural nasal sprays:

  • Sea water nasal spray
  • Nasal spray with Emser salt (isotonic mineralised composition)
  • Sinusitis spray with eucalyptus oil (with glycerol solution)

Cortisone nasal sprays

These nasal sprays require a prescription because of the active ingredient cortisone. They are not so addictive and can be used for a longer period of time. This is why they are particularly suitable for allergy sufferers.

Suitable for allergy sufferers

Nasal sprays can help not only with a runny nose caused by a cold, but also with a cold caused by allergies. One of the most common allergies is hay fever. A nasal spray that works directly on the mucous membranes is particularly helpful here. It is important that you choose a nasal spray that you can use for longer than the usual 7 days without side effects. These nasal sprays include all those that have a decongestant effect and can be used for longer than a week. These usually have one of the following ingredients and are available only on prescription

  • Cortisone
  • Antihistamine

But you can also use the natural seawater nasal sprays for allergies.

Nasal spray that is not addictive

To find a nasal spray that is not addictive, read carefully about the ingredients and possible length of use. All nasal sprays that can only be used for 7 days and contain the active ingredients xylometazoline or oxymetazoline can be addictive. Nasal sprays that do not contain these active ingredients and do not have a maximum duration of use can be used without the risk of addiction. This includes all natural seawater nasal sprays. The prescription cortisone nasal sprays are also suitable.

Interesting facts about nasal sprays

How do I use the nasal spray correctly?

For the correct use of the nasal spray, we recommend that you read the package leaflet and discuss possible warnings with your doctor or pharmacist. In general, you should not use the nasal spray for longer than 7 days, unless it is a natural nasal spray (e.g. seawater nasal spray) or long-term use (e.g. for nasal sprays for allergy sufferers) is explicitly stated. You can follow the following steps for the application:

  • Clean your nose first.
  • Remove the protective cap of the nasal spray and hold it vertically. Give a few test blasts until a spray comes out. It may take a few pumps, especially if you are using it for the first time.
  • Hold the nasal spray in one nostril, spray once and breathe in normally. Repeat the process in the other nostril. Then tilt your head back slightly.
  • Clean the tip of the nasal spray with a clean cloth and put the protective cap back on.
  • Do not use a nasal spray that you started last season.

What are the possible side effects of a nasal spray?

A normal nasal spray with a decongestant effect often contains the active ingredients xylometazoline or oxymetazoline. Please note that you can only use it for a maximum of 7 days!

The nasal sprays reduce the swelling of the nasal mucous membrane. This lasts for about 6 to 8 hours. After that, there is a rebound effect. There is more blood flow and swelling. Here, it is often tempting to use the nasal spray more. However, if you use it for longer, it can cause irreversible damage to the nasal mucosa. It can even lead to the so-called "stinky nose". Here, germs and bacteria settle on the damaged mucous membrane and a coating forms that has a strong odour. Here is a summary of the possible side effects when used for too long:

  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Drying of the nasal mucosa and formation of bark in the nasal cavities
  • Nosebleeds
  • Increased risk of disease (due to reduced immune function)
  • Irreversible damage to the nasal mucosa
  • Psychological consequences (breathing without nasal spray is perceived as unpleasant)
  • Risk of addiction
  • Loss of the sense of smell

Of course, there are also natural seawater nasal sprays. According to the manufacturers, these have no side effects. We recommend that you read the package leaflet carefully and consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately if you notice any side effects.

How do I break my nasal spray addiction?

To break the nasal spray addiction, it is important that you wean yourself off the excessive use of nasal sprays with the active ingredients xylometazoline or oxymetazoline. We have summarised some options for you here. However, we recommend that you discuss these steps with your doctor.

  • You can try switching to a nasal spray with cortisone. However, this is only available on prescription.
  • You can also try the "one-hole therapy": In this case, you only treat one nostril while the other one is in "withdrawal".
  • You should also try to lower the dosage gradually. This can mean using it less often during the day and taking longer breaks in between, or diluting the nasal spray (e.g. with saline solution) and thus taking a smaller dose.
  • It would also be good to switch to a natural nasal spray (e.g. seawater or mineral-based)

Is the nasal spray suitable for pregnant women and for children?

Nasal sprays have a vasoconstrictor effect, which also takes place throughout the body. Therefore, nasal sprays are not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, the exact effects are still unclear. We therefore recommend that you discuss this in detail with your doctor or pharmacist. For babies and children, we recommend only natural saline-based nasal sprays.

There are also special children's sprays from Nasic that are suitable for children as young as 2 years old. These are without preservatives and less harmful to the nasal mucosa. You can also consider using alternatives. For babies, nasal aspirators are also a good option.

Image source: pixabay.com / Capri23auto

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