Using Saline Sprays to Relieve Dryness and Allergies

A woman using nasal spray

Burger / Getty Images

It may be hard to fathom, but something as simple as saltwater may actually help you to breathe easier. The use of saline sprays may relieve dryness, congestion, and even snoring caused by allergies. It can also be a useful adjunctive treatment if you have obstructive sleep apnea. Learn how saline sprays may also ease nasal dryness, prevent nosebleeds, or relieve congestion associated with the common cold.

What Is Nasal Saline Spray?

Available for purchase as an over-the-counter product, nasal saline sprays typically come packaged in small plastic squirt bottles. There are a number of delivery options, but the ingredients tend to be the same. There are numerous store and brand names, including variations on several themes: Ocean Mist, Ocean Spray, Ocean, Simply Saline Nasal Mist, etc. Most contain sterilized water, salt (sodium chloride), and sometimes preservatives to give them a longer shelf life. Nasal saline sprays can be purchased in most pharmacies or even at a grocery store in the medicine aisle. These products are not expensive, often available for just a few dollars but always less than $10.


There are a number of conditions that might be improved with the use of the nasal saline spray. These include:

  • Dry nose
  • Nosebleeds (epistaxis)
  • Nasal congestion (due to a cold or sinus infection)
  • Allergies
  • Snoring

Some people with obstructive sleep apnea may also use the nasal saline spray to reduce nasal congestion at night when using CPAP. As it may rinse out particles called allergens, this may reduce swelling of the mucosa lining the nose. This can improve airflow through the nose and prevent mouth breathing.

Benefits and Side Effects

As the nasal saline spray is effective for a variety of conditions, is relatively inexpensive, and has few potential side effects, it is an attractive treatment option.

It can be used daily without potential harm. If it is overused, you may simply notice a runny nose as the excess water drains out. The effects may be relatively short-lived, requiring multiple uses per day. There is no risk of rebound congestion, with stuffiness becoming chronic as the medication wears off, as might occur with prolonged use of Afrin.

It is safe for children and adults to use. It does not interact with other medications, but if you use it after applying a nasal steroid spray, you may rinse out the other medication, reducing its effectiveness.

How to Use Nasal Saline Spray

A saline spray can be applied through the nostrils into the nose as often as your symptoms require. With a plastic bottle, you simply squeeze twice in each nostril as needed. Some bottles will deliver a spray if administered upright, a stream if held horizontally, or a drop if held upside down. Review the product instructions to determine the best way to use your spray.


Depending on your symptoms, there may be other effective treatment options. For example, some benefit from the use of a Neti pot to relieve allergies or to clear nasal congestion. The use of other allergy treatments or surgery — including turbinate reduction — may even be a possibility, depending on the nature of the problem. Speak with your doctor about what might work best for you, but starting with nasal saline spray is a safe and effective option.

Was this page helpful?