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Nasal Allergy

Q: What's a good remedy for nasal allergy? I never had this before: clogged nose and frequent sneezing. It's been two weeks and 4 bottles of Afrin, which helps a little, but I don't what to depend on that. Is there some cure? I don't have insurance

Dr. Donnica:
Nasal congestion & sneezing may be signs of allergies, but they could also be signs of a cold. Whenever using ANY medicines—even over the counter nasal sprays—be sure to read the COMPLETE package instructions. In the case of Afrin, you will see a warning that this product should not be used for longer than 5 days. Longer use could cause damage to your nasal tissue and lead to chronic congestion. There is also a list of people who should not use Afrin. This includes people who have taken certain medicines, those with high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid problems, diabetes, glaucoma, enlarged prostate or difficulty urinating, liver or kidney disease. I understand that not having medical insurance is a barrier limiting medical care. One very inexpensive, but very helpful technique you can try before seeking medical attention is something called nasal lavage, also called nasal irrigation, or “using a Neti-pot”. You can buy one in your local drugstore for under $10 & they usually come with a saline solution to mix in a pot of warm water (aim for body temperature rather than room temperature). Leaning over the sink, pour half of the solution into one nostril, which should clean all the mucus out of the other nostril. Repeat with the other side. This can be done up to 4 times per day. To get a good picture of how to do this properly, there are numerous videos online. One warning is to make sure the water is warm enough, or you may get an uncomfortable “head rush” feeling. If this technique doesn’t help you after a week—or if you have any fever or severe headache or facial pain over the sinuses—then you must seek medical attention. For those without insurance and without access to a physician, I am a big fan of the Minute Clinics at local drugstore chains such as CVS.

Created: 1/22/2010  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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