Compare Nasacort AQ vs. Afrin

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Nasacort Aq
(Triamcinolone)

Afrin
(Oxymetazoline)

Relieves allergy symptoms. Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is the only medication in its class available over the counter for treating stuffy and runny nose due to allergies. You have to use it every day for it to work.Clears your sinuses. Afrin (Oxymetazoline) clears stuffy noses well, but don't use it for more than 3 days in a row or your congestion could get worse.
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Reviews & ratings
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4.84Nasacort AQ
Reviews for Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)
67%
of people (All ages) say Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is worth it
39%
say it works well
10%
say it's a big hassle
328 reviews
Have you used Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Afrin (Oxymetazoline)
71%
+4% better vs. Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)
47%
+8% better vs. Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)
12%
-2% worse vs. Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)
599 reviews
Have you used Afrin (Oxymetazoline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
Nasacort AQAfrin
  • Sore throat 1%
  • Nosebleed 3%
  • Flu syndrome 2%
  • Bronchitis 2%
  • Indigestion 2%
  • Tooth disorder 2%
  • Headache 2%
  • Throat pain 2%
  • Common cold 1%
More Nasacort AQ side effects »

We haven’t found good data for Afrin side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Afrin »
How it works
Nasacort AQAfrin
Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is a nasal steroid. It works directly in your nose to help reduce swelling and inflammation from allergies.Afrin (Oxymetazoline) is a nasal decongestant. It reduces swelling in your nose to make breathing easier.
Type of medication
Nasacort AQAfrin
Prescription or OTC
Prescription or OTC
Available as
Nasacort AQAfrin
  • Nasal spray
  • Nasal spray
Used for
Nasacort AQAfrin
Risk factors for serious side effects
Nasacort AQAfrin
  • Long-term use
  • Surgery or trauma to the nose or sinuses
  • Exposure to immunizable diseases (chickenpox and measles)
  • Exposure to tuberculosis
  • Long-term use
  • Switching from oral or injectable steroids to inhaled, especially if used long term
  • Using other inhaled steroids with Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)
  • Long-term use
  • Taking more than recommended dose
Detailed Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) risks & warnings »
  • Using Afrin (Oxymetazoline) for more than 3 days
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Afrin (Oxymetazoline) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

Upsides and benefits
Nasacort AQAfrin
  • Available over the counter without a prescription.
  • First-choice medication for treating runny and stuffy noses caused by allergies. It works by reducing inflammation in the nose.
  • Because it's used directly where the inflammation is happening, it has fewer side effects than oral steroids do and has a lower chance of causing withdrawal symptoms once the medication is stopped.
  • It works right away and each dose provides relief for up to 12 hours.
  • Can use for nasal congestion caused by colds and allergies.
  • It only affects your nose, so there aren't too many other side effects.
  • Available as a nasal spray and a nasal mist.
Downsides and risks
Nasacort AQAfrin
  • Can't be used on as-needed basis. Must be taken every day.
  • Doesn't have a counter on it, so it can be hard to remember how many sprays are left.
  • Since the medicine in Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) is a steroid, it can slow down your healing process if you've hurt your nose or had nose surgery.
  • Needs to be primed before use and re-primed if not used for more than 2 weeks.
  • Afrin (Oxymetazoline), like all other sprays used for stuffy noses, can make your congestion worse if you use it for more than 3 or 4 days in a row (called rebound-congestion).
  • Can cause temporary stinging, burning, or dryness in your nose.
  • Can't be used for kids younger than 6 years old.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
Nasacort AQAfrin
  • Use Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone) once a day, following age-specific recommendations on how many sprays to use. Don't take more than prescribed.
  • Blow your nose before using.
  • Can cause thrush (a fungal infection) inside the nose and throat.
  • Can also cause nosebleeds, a sore throat, and headaches.
  • Needs to be used regularly during allergy season for it to work. It can take 1 to 2 weeks for the medicine to start working fully.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist on how to use the nasal spray the right way.
  • Shake well before using it. Before the first use, prime the bottle by spraying it until you see a fine mist.
  • Use 2 to 3 sprays in each nostril every 10 to 12 hours. Don't use Afrin (Oxymetazoline) more than two times a day.
  • Keep your head upright and don't tilt it back when spraying Afrin (Oxymetazoline) into your nose.
  • Breathe in with quick sniffs while spraying and wait a few minutes before blowing your nose.
  • Don't use Afrin (Oxymetazoline) for more than 3 days in a row since it can worsen your congestion after a few days of use.
Learn more
More about Nasacort AQSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Nasacort Aq (Triamcinolone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about AfrinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Afrin (Oxymetazoline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it