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Can You Overcome an Afrin Addiction?

One reader reports that spicy green chile salsa would open up the sinuses enough to help break an Afrin addiction. Others have used steroid nasal sprays or even saline spray to accomplish this goal.
Can You Overcome an Afrin Addiction?
Man uses a nasal spray for treatment

Have you ever become addicted to your nasal spray? Millions of people do. Decongestant nasal sprays can be used safely for only a few days before they start to produce rebound congestion that can be quite uncomfortable. No wonder so many folks end up with an Afrin addiction, though any decongestant nasal spray can cause this problem. One reader found an unusual method to break the habit.

What Can You Do about Your Afrin Addiction?

Q. I got addicted to Afrin nasal spray. I couldn’t go any longer than 15 minutes without it.

It was a painful process to break the habit, but this worked for me. I would apply a hot compress to my sinuses (and cry because it hurt so much.) Then I would eat really hot green chile salsa, which would open up my sinuses. (I found this would also work if I was just starting to get a sinus infection.)

It helped to go for a run to get the sinuses open after eating the salsa. If I get a little stuffed up now, out comes the green chile. I have read that green chile has medicinal properties. Maybe this will help someone else break an Afrin addiction.

Overcoming Your Nasal Spray Addiction:

A. When people use strong vasoconstricting nasal decongestants for more than a few days, the nose adapts. Stopping the spray can trigger rebound nasal congestion, which may lead to a vicious cycle of nasal spray overuse.

Your strategy is intriguing. Others have found that gradually diluting the spray with saline solution can help.

Steroid Nasal Spray to the Rescue:

Some people also use steroid nasal sprays (Flonase, Nasacort, Rhinocort) to overcome nose spray dependency. Here is what another reader did.

Q. I have been using Afrin Nasal Decongestant Spray for two decades. My mom started me on it when I was a kid with bad allergies and then I couldn’t stop. I hated that nose spray addiction.

I finally got off Afrin by using Flonase and diluting the last bottle of Afrin with saline. It took about a week, and though I am still a little stuffy, I am so glad to be off the decongestant. I just thought others might benefit from my experience.

A. Thank you for sharing your success. Flonase is a corticosteroid nasal spray (fluticasone) that has recently become available over the counter. It can be helpful during the process of weaning off a nose spray addiction. It is also useful in controlling nasal allergy symptoms.

Side Effects of Steroid Sprays:

Side effects of Flonase may include headache, nosebleeds, nausea, cough and oral yeast infections. With long-term use, some people become more susceptible to cataracts or glaucoma.

To avoid getting into trouble with nasal spray, some people with allergies might want to try natural approaches:

Marie shared another way to avoid an Afrin addiction:

“Afrin is great when used only for occasional stuffiness. I never spray it in both nostrils; I alternate. Even with the worst cold, breathing through one clear nostril is fine. If you alternate nostrils you don’t have to worry about rebound congestion.”

2/25/19 redirected to: https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2019/02/25/how-to-beat-nose-spray-dependence-one-nostril-at-a-time/

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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