Do Nasal Sprays Expire?

Nasal sprays are a common type of medication that come in liquid form and are sprayed into the nose to alleviate congestion. According to the Family Doctor, congestion can happen from allergies or a cold, so many people turn to nasal sprays to relieve stuffiness in the sinus area. Nasal sprays are available over-the-counter or by prescription in two forms: a pump spray or pressurized can. Both forms work in the body the same way, however, a pump spray includes squeezing a pump while the other involves pressing down on a canister.

There are many different types of nasal sprays with some designed for short-term use and others for an extended period of time. The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy reports allergy nasal sprays are commonly available as antihistamines, steroids, and decongestants. Antihistamine may sound familiar as it's a common ingredient in oral allergy meds, but instead is available in nasal spray form.

For long-term use, doctors prescribe steroid nasal sprays, meaning they can be used for an extended period of time and offer relief from multiple allergy symptoms, including inflammation and nasal congestion (per American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy). Decongestants work similarly to steroid nasal sprays, however, these are designed for short-term use. There are other nasal sprays on the market, like saline sprays, but it's more so designed to keep the nose moist, and doesn't work against allergy symptoms.

When to throw out nasal sprays

Like other liquid medications, nasal sprays do have an expiration date and should be followed closely. Insider reports preservatives in nasal sprays are what keep the liquid safe to use for so long. Over time, the quality of the preservatives slowly fades, making it ineffective and could even cause illness.

If you use a nasal spray after its expiration date, you could be using a contaminated product, according to Verywell Health. Additionally, the longer you keep your nasal spray, the longer dirt and bacteria have to build up and contaminate it.

Once your nasal spray has expired, your best bet is to throw it out to avoid any unwanted illnesses. WebMD reports you can turn to other remedies to alleviate allergy symptoms if you don't want to use an expired nasal spray, such as nasal washes and wearing protection. If you expect to be outside around dirt and other pollen, wear a mask and sunglasses to keep debris out of your mouth, nose, and eyes. Cleansing your nose with a saline spray can also help clear out any allergens in the meantime as well.