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Nasal Spray Dependency Is Nothing to Sneeze At

Nasal Spray Dependency Is Nothing to Sneeze At

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” is a line from a poem by the writer Gertrude Stein, who helped make Paris a hot spot for the bohemian set in the early 1900s. And, vaudevillian Jimmy “the Schnozzola” Durante knew his nose was a nose was a nose!  

But when it comes to getting your congested smeller in shape? Well, congestion relief, is not congestion relief, is not congestion relief! Some favorite schnozz-clearers can make it impossible to wake up and smell the coffee, or much of anything else.

Decongestant sprays are designed to reduce nasal swelling, but when they wear off, nasal tissues swell back up and chronic use can lead to permanent swelling of and damage to nasal tissue. If you are going to use a decongestant spray, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology says you should limit it to no more than twice a day for three days. Exceed that and you risk triggering rebound congestion, so you need more and more to get relief. Symptoms of dependency: You need to use the spray more often than recommended and you use the spray daily just to breathe normally.

Safer options for clearing plugged up nasal passages include antihistamine or steroid sprays that (respectively) block the histamines that trigger allergic reactions, and calm inflammation. Saline spray and netti pots (use only saline and keep well sterilized) can also loosen up mucus, provide temporary relief and don’t create the risk of rebound congestion. 

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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