About Addiction to Nasal Decongestant Sprays
- Nowadays, there are many different kinds of nasal sprays available over the counter.
- Over the counter decongestant nasal sprays such as Afrin, Oxymetazoline, and Neosynephrine provide powerful nasal decongestion.
- These sprays are helpful for a common cold or airplane flight when used for no more than a few days.
- Nasal decongestant sprays should never be used longer than a few days.
- When you use them for weeks, months or years, your nose develops a tolerance, and then a dependence on the medication. When the effect of the spray wears off, your nasal passages become more congested and swollen. This tolerance forces you to keep using the medication again and again simply to breathe. Frequently, it can become impossible to breathe through your nose without the spray!
- Is your nose frequently stuffy?
- Do you have difficulty breathing through your nose?
- Do you have to sleep with your mouth open?
- Are you unable to get enough air through your nose during exercise?
- Do you need to use over the counter decongestant nasal sprays to breathe?
- Have you used over the counter nasal decongestant sprays for more than a week?
- Do you have constant phlegm or postnasal drip to snort or spit?
- Is your sense of smell less than you wish it was?
- Does your voice sound like you always have a cold?
- Do you know someone who answers YES to these questions?
- When you cannot breathe without nasal decongestant sprays, you should see an ENT specialist to help you overcome your dependence on the nasal decongestant spray.
- The most important step to treatment is to stop the nasal decongestant spray “cold turkey”—this means completely!
- Often your Beach Cities ENTS Specialist may prescribe other sprays such as steroid sprays or oral steroids.
- Over the counter oral decongestants may help as long as you do not have heart issues or high blood pressure, in which case you would need to check with your internist first.