Q. I was addicted to nasal sprays for five years. The ear, nose and throat specialist told me that there was nothing he could do. He said I had to go “cold turkey.”
A year later, my family doctor prescribed Nasonex nasal spray for allergies. This nasal steroid spray cured my dependence on decongestants in a few days.
A. Decongestant nasal sprays (like Afrin or Neo-Synephrine) come with a clear warning not to use them for more than three days. The trouble is, allergies usually last a lot longer so people are tempted to overuse such products.
Rebound nasal congestion can make it very challenging to stop suddenly. People feel so congested because of blood vessel dilation in nasal passages that they often resume use of the spray.
Nasonex nasal spray contains the corticosteroid mometasone. It and similar prescription products (beclomethasone, budesonide, fluticasone and triamcinolone) calm inflammation and can often make it easier to discontinue decongestant sprays.
It is wise to keep in mind that steroid nasal sprays also have side effects, so they should not be used indefinitely. Here are what some of our readers have said:
“I used Flonase for years. I developed cataracts on both eyes and had to have them removed. I am only 61 and the cataracts were both removed when I was still in my fifties. They don’t tell you that Flonase and other steroid nose sprays can contribute to the early development of cataracts but I found that out after it was too late. Also, for me, Flonase stopped working after awhile so it was back to the addictive nose sprays.
“I have tried everything and while some remedies work for some periods of time nothing has worked consistently over the years better than the addictive nose sprays. My congestion is always at night so it’s either use the sprays or I can’t sleep. I have tried decongestants and they clear up my nasal passages but the ingredients keep me awake. Some have suggested Bendadryl but this doesn’t decongest me.
“I wish there was a remedy that would help with my severe nighttime nasal congestion while letting me sleep through the night!” TM
“One other option to relieve congestion without resorting to nasal decongestants (or oral decongestants) is to just irrigate nasal passages (liberally) using a saline solution and a rubber ear syringe (a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of warm water). It can be a messy process and it’s not as fast as using a decongestant, but it is not habit forming, puts no chemicals (other than sodium chloride) into your body and it does work.” Don