Treating nasal spray addiction with natural remedies is becoming more popular. Unfortunately millions of people worldwide suffer from this medical condition.
Nasal spray addiction (Rhinitis Medicamentosa) is the term used to describe the dependency on over the counter decongestant nasal sprays due to them causing rebound congestion (congestion worse than before the nasal spray was used).
Over the counter decongestant nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline, xylometazoline, phenylepherine etc. (topical vacoconstrictors) temporarily reduce the size of the nasal turbinates, open the nasal passages and provide relief from nasal congestion etc. However when these are used for more than 3 consecutive days they cause rebound congestion. Rebound congestion is the result of abnormal hypertrophy (enlargement) and swelling of the nasal membranes. This blocks the nasal passages causing the nasal congestion and associated symptoms. This rebound congestion is temporarily relieved by using the offending nasal spray. Therefore a vicious cycle of dependency ensues.
The delicate lining of the nasal passages can be permanently damaged.
Nasal congestion and difficulty breathing
Pain in teeth
Pain in jaw
Pain in ears,
Pain through and around eyes
Drainage of a thick yellow or green discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat (post nasal drip)
Reduced sense of smell and taste
Cough (which may be worse at night)
Sore throat and halitosis (bad breath).
Anxiety and nervousness
Chronic nose bleeds
Dry/crusty nasal passages
Rapid heart beat
It is important to note that the nasal spray addiction is a consequence of using a decongestant nasal spray to relieve the symptoms of a previous sinus condition. Therefore once the nasal spray addiction has been dealt with it may still be necessary to treat the cause of the original sinus condition such as infection or allergies (see my other articles).
Discontinue use – Going ‘cold turkey’ and stopping use of the decongestant nasal spray can eventually break the dependency. However this can cause sleep deprivation, anxiety, extreme nasal congestion etc. and general suffering and misery.
Natural nasal sprays- Natural nasal sprays such as SinuSoothe are doctor recommended and can be used to replace the offending decongestant nasal spray. SinuSoothe relieves nasal congestion, inflammation, pain, headaches etc. and can be used regularly on a long term basis. It has no side effects, is non-addictive and doesn’t cause rebound congestion. Since the active ingredients improve blood flow and regenerate cell production it can help heal any damaged nasal tissue. It can also treat any underlying bacterial/fungal infections and allergies that may have caused the initial sinus condition.
Gradual weaning – It is possible to gradually wean yourself off of the offending decongestant nasal spray. Dilute it with a saline solution (a saline nasal spray would be ideal) say 90% decongestant to 10% saline for the first week reducing to an 80% decongestant to 20% saline mix the following week and so on. Eventually reducing the decongestant content to zero. This method is all about trial and error and each individual needs to adjust the mix to suit themselves.
Saline nasal sprays – Saline nasal sprays such as Sterimar may be useful for moisturising the nasal passages and relieving nasal congestion. They can be either isotonic or hypertonic solutions. These can be used long term, have no side effects and are non-addictive. They may help reduce inflammation.
Nasal irrigation – A neti pot is used to irrigate the sinuses with either an isotonic or hypertonic solution. An isotonic solution has the same salt concentration as your body. A hypertonic solution has a higher salt content and may be more useful at drawing moisture and mucous from the sinuses. This may help reduce inflammation and relieve nasal congestion. It is a good practice for keeping your sinuses clean and removing irritants. It is completely safe provided you use the correct saline solution.
Natural anti-inflammatories – Since the symptoms of sinusitis, allergies and rhinitis are caused by inflammation it follows that by reducing inflammation you will reduce the severity of the symptoms. Omega 3,6 &9 oils, vitamin C, turmeric and ginger are all excellent natural anti-inflammatories. There are plenty of others and your local health food store should be able to advise you on these. It usually takes about 4 weeks for these to start taking effect.
As with all medical conditions you should consult your doctor before undertaking new treatments.