The Dangers of Nasal Spray


Reagan Lancaster, Staff Writer

As allergy season is in full swing, people become dependent on eye drops, Claritin, and nasal sprays. People are most commonly subjected to congestion during spring allergies and seek any opportunity to get rid of it or just have a brief moment of relief. One of the most fast-acting relief sources is nasal spray. Nasal spray comes in many different bottles from several different brands, some even have aloe or Vicks in them to provide a cooling effect. However, what most people do not know; is the dangers of the overuse of nasal spray.


Nasal spray is recommended to use for only three days at a time before it begins to make one feel more congested and then, in turn, reach for the nose spray again. This is called a rebound effect, or in medical terms, “rhinitis medicamentosa” which is, according to Cleveland Clinic, “a type of nasal congestion that occurs when you overuse nasal sprays. It causes irritation and inflammation in your nasal passages.” The chemicals that cause this are oxymetazoline and phenylephrine, oxymetazoline is most common in the nasal spray brands, Afrin and Zicam. Phenylephrine is most common in Neo-Synephrine. However, this does not make brands that don’t use these chemicals less addictive. 


As an example, I myself have suffered from this rebound effect two years in a row. The process is quite tedious and overwhelming as you find yourself dependent on nose spray to be able to breathe clearly. It becomes a habit to where you feel like you need to use it every hour or your sinuses clog completely and your air supply feels limited. In previous years, I have learned to ease up on the usage because that is really the only way to use it. Stopping ‘cold-turkey’ can actually make symptoms worse, doctors recommend that you simply ease up on your usage of nasal sprays and turn to saline sprays, which do not have chemicals in them. Eventually, you will become less dependent on it. 


For future reference, read up on the nasal spray you purchase and read the instructions that display how long and often you should be using the nasal spray. An addiction to nasal spray seems pretty unrealistic until you are a victim to it… The vicious cycle is one that can be prevented if you just understand the dangers and read directions. 


So as spring allergies or allergies in general, continue to flourish, read up before you reach for the nasal spray.