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Saline Nasal Sprays and Nose Drops

Nonprescription saline nasal sprays and nose drops are used to keep nasal tissues moist, relieve nasal irritation, and help thick or dried mucus to drain.

Saline nose drops can be purchased without a prescription or can be made easily at home:

  • Mix ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt and ½ tsp (2.5 g) baking soda in 1 cup (237 mL) of distilled water (too much salt dries out nasal membranes). If you use tap water, boil it first to sterilize it, and then let it cool until it is lukewarm.
  • Place the solution in a clean bottle with a dropper (available at drugstores). Use as needed. Make a fresh solution every 3 days.
  • Insert drops while lying on a bed. The person should be on his or her back and hang the head over the side of the bed. This helps the drops get farther back. To avoid reinfection, try to avoid touching the dropper to the nose.
  • If the bottle does not have a dropper, the solution can be snuffed from the palm of the hand, one nostril at a time.

Saline sprays can be used safely for as long as needed.

Last Revised: September 12, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine & Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology

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