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Saline nasal sprays

Saline nasal spray may be a worthwhile, but inexpensive, investment in your health during the winter months. Using a spray may help keep your airways open and the germs at bay.

Noses tend to get dry and crusty during the winter because it’s cold outdoors and hot indoors. A simple saline solution works to keep the nose moist, and clean the nasal passages of crusts and mucus where bacteria can grow.

Saline nasal sprays are safe and easy to use, and available over the counter. They provide relief for allergy sufferers, and can be beneficial for those traveling in airplanes where the air is dry.

Most of these products are similar with the exception of some slight differences in price, size and additives. All contain sodium chloride (salt) and water.

Off-brand nasal sprays are available, often cheaper and free of preservatives. Some of the most popular national brands include Ocean Saline, Ayr, Xlear and Simply Saline.

Price and ingredient comparison of the top brands

•Ocean Saline Nasal Spray: contains sodium chloride saline solution with the addition of benzyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride as preservatives; runs about $4 for 3.5 fluid ounces.

•Ayr Saline Nasal Mist: contains sodium chloride; non-medicated and alcohol-free; costs $3-4 for 1.69 fluid ounces.

•Simply Saline: purified water and sodium chloride; preservative and drug free; $4-5 for 1.5 ounces.

•Xlear: saline solution with the addition of xylitol and grapefruit seed extract as a preservative; $5-7 for 0.75 ounces.

Nasal sprays have few side effects but may cause some stinging depending on the ingredients. Switch to a preservative-free brand if preservatives cause irritation.

Use a saline spray as often as needed but consider nasal irrigation for greater clearing of crusts and mucus. Purchase a neti pot and mix up your own solution of ¼ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in one cup of warm water.

Stand with your head over the bathroom sink. Tilt your head to the left and pour the saline solution through the right nostril. Repeat on the other side. Use one cup of solution per nostril twice a day, especially during winter months or allergy season.






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