How to Stop Using Nasal Spray

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People use nasal sprays for relief of congestion related to allergies or colds.
People use nasal sprays for relief of congestion related to allergies or colds. (Image: Monkey Business Images Ltd/Valueline/Getty Images)

According to "The New York Times," doctors have recognized a condition called rhinitis medicamentosa since 1946. This condition, more commonly called rebound congestion, is a stuffiness or blockage of nasal passages as a result of medicinal treatment not disease. Nasal spray decongestants are intended to treat temporary symptoms of allergies or colds, not as a long-term medication and certainly not as a cure. The Hayfever Expert reports that rebound congestion occurs because the blood vessels along the nasal passages become accustomed to the medication and require more medicine more often in order to achieve the same results. Because of this cyclical pattern of nasal spray use, some users may state that they are addicted to nasal sprays. However, no doctors or medical associations are currently willing to define rebound congestion as a true addiction.

Things You'll Need

  • Physician
  • Nasal spray, over-the-counter or prescription
  • Decongestant, over-the-counter or prescription

First-time Nasal Spray Users

See your physician if you are experiencing nasal congestion. Inform your doctor if you are taking any over-the-counter medication. The doctor will determine the exact condition causing your congestion and prescribe a course of treatment.

Take any nasal sprays as prescribed by your doctor. Nasal sprays are available by prescription or over-the counter. Use only as directed. Internet research has revealed courses that last anywhere from three days to two weeks.

Stop taking the nasal spray as directed by your doctor or the nasal spray packaging. If symptoms worsen or persist, do not continue to dose with the nasal spray, but contact your doctor immediately.

Chronic Nasal Spray Users

See your physician before stopping a long-term use of nasal sprays. Long-term can be defined as longer than the prescribed dosing time or constant or repeated usage of nasal sprays. Your physician will determine the exact cause of your congestion and can help you ween off of nasal spray usage.

Take any alternative decongestant prescribed by your doctor as directed. This may be a psuedo-ephedrine or steroid. These medicines will help lessen the symptoms of rebound congestion as your body adjusts to the lack of nasal spray usage.

Do not continue to use nasal sprays once your doctor has prescribed an alternative. Throw out all nasal sprays currently in your home, car, or place of work to reduce the temptation to use a nasal spray when symptoms of congestion reappear.

Tips & Warnings

  • The next time you are congested reach for a saline nasal spray instead. These sprays contain no medication but can provide temporary relief from nasal congestion.
  • To avoid rebound congestion always use any nasal spray only as prescribed and seek the counsel of a physician if you feel you have rebound congestion.

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