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The do’s and don’ts of nasal spray usage
鼻塞不能亂噴藥 收縮劑別連用逾十天

A woman uses a nasal spray in Taipei on Dec. 6, 2011.

Photo: Wang Chang-min, Liberty Times

A 57-year-old woman surnamed Yang had been troubled by allergic rhinitis since childhood. After recently taking antihistamines, her nose was still congested, so she went to a pharmacy and bought a nasal spray that included vasoconstrictors. She says that although her stuffy nose initially got better, the congestion eventually returned and got worse after one or two weeks of using the nasal spray. When she finally went to see a doctor, Yang was already experiencing rebound nasal congestion. Doctors say that you should only use nasal sprays containing vasoconstrictors for up to 10 days and that most people are unaware of the restrictions regarding the use of such sprays, which can lead to more serious problems.

Taiwan Otolaryngological Society president and National Cheng Kung University Hospital Department of Otolaryngology professor Fang Sheen-yie says that allergic rhinitis is typically accompanied by annoying symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal congestions, runny nose and discomfort of the eyes. Other complications, including sinusitis, sleep disorders and asthma, can also occur. The current methods for treating allergic rhinitis include taking antihistamines, intranasal vasoconstrictors and steroid nasal sprays.

Tai Chih-jaan, director of China Medical University Hospital’s Department of Otolarngology, says that antihistamines taken orally work fast but the effect does not last long. Most of the nasal sprays sold over-the-counter at pharmacies are intranasal vasoconstrictors, Tai says. Although they temporarily alleviate nasal congestion, he says that using them for an extended period of time might create dependence and damage the hyperplasia of mucous membrane epithelium, further exacerbating one’s nasal congestion.


1. pharmacy n.

藥局 (yao4 ju2)

例: They caught the man who robbed the pharmacy.


2. stuffy nose n. phr.

鼻塞 (bi2 sai1)

例: She has a stuffy nose, so her voice is all nasal.


3. over-the-counter adj.

非處方的 (fei1 chu3 fang1 de5)

例: Some prescription drugs in the US are over-the-counter in Taiwan.


Doctors say that when treating allergic rhinitis it is best to start out taking antihistamines and eventually switch to steroid nasal sprays to allow your nasal allergies to remain stable. Steroid nasal sprays usually do not start having an effect for two to four weeks. Many people are suspicious about steroids, but the dose is actually quite small and only affects the nasal mucous membranes. It will not cause any full-body symptoms, doctors say.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)






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