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Nasal Spray Addiction?

Rhinitis Medicamentosa Treatments Below ↓

Have you been using nasal sprays to relieve a stuffy nose, but now you find yourself dependent on them? Are you using them 3 or more times a day and always at night so that you can sleep?

Is your cold, sinus irritation or hay fever long gone, but the stuffiness continually getting worse if you try to stop the sprays?

Don't worry, this is an extremely common problem called Rhinitis medicamentosa and below I explain an easy home solution (no pun intended) that many have used to finally end their addiction to nasal sprays.

What is Rhinitis Medicamentosa?

Rhinitis medicamentosa is a condition caused by overuse of topical nasal decongestants, this includes Afrin (afrin addiction) and other over-the-counter nasal sprays. It is also called rebound congestion due to the manner in which it occurs. Rebound effect is the tendency of some medications, when discontinued, to actually cause the return of the symptoms it relieved. In many cases, the symptoms can be worse than before the treatment began.

For people who experience a lot of nasal congestion and allergies, decongestants can bring relief. However, over use of these decongestants can lead to dependency. Your nose can actually become addicted to the decongestants to the point where it will begin running again when you stop taking the decongestants. This can occur even after you are over your allergies, cold, or other rhinitis symptoms.


Nasal decongestants are not meant to be used for extended periods of time. Using nasal sprays consistently for over 4-5 days can cause your nose to become dependent on them to prevent it from running. Eventually, the nasal sprays that you used to stop your nose from running during a cold, or allergies, may be required to keep your nose open all the time.

Afrin Nasal Spray

The active ingredient in decongestants is a vasoconstrictor. This means it is used to reduce the size of blood vessels in the nose which opens the nasal passages and provides relief from congestion.

When the active ingredient wears off, and your nasal passages begin to swell and run again, your congestion will return. Repeated use of the decongestants creates a vicious cycle of dependency. Your nose will run when the decongestant wears off, so you use more nasal spray to clear it up. Unfortunately, after doing this for a week or more, your symptoms can actually be far worse than before you started using the decongestants in the first place.


Rhinitis medicamentosa symptoms will often be more severe than the symptoms of normal rhinitis. Odds are you started using decongestants to treat something mild like hay fever symptoms, a stuffy/blocked nose, or a runny nose. However, once your nose is addicted to the decongestants and requires them to stay unblocked, your symptoms will be far worse once your nose starts going through withdrawal.

The main symptom is that you are repeatedly taking decongestants to keep your nose clear, and your nose will not stop running without using them. These other symptoms occur after your decongestant begins to wear off.

  • Stuffy Nose
  • Blocked Nasal Passages
  • Runny Nose
  • Post Nasal Drip

Nasal Spray addiction can last for years and can be extremely frustrating. If you have been suffering from this for more than a month or two, you should definitely see a doctor or other medical professional.

If you think you are in the early stages of developing a nasal spray addiction, then the following treatment may help.


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Rhinitis medicamentosa treatment is very straightforward, but it can also be very difficult. Because this problem is caused by overuse of nasal decongestants, the only way to relive it is by stop using the decongestants that are causing the problem.

Giving in to your temptation to use sprays to relieve the symptoms can cause an endless cycle of use and dependence. This can cycle can only be broken by stopping the use of the decongestants and dealing with the symptoms until your nose recovers.

Quitting Cold Turkey (Hard but Fast Method)

Quitting cold turkey is the most commonly tried (and failed) method of ending your addition. Just like with people who try to quit smoking or doing drugs abruptly, the effects of withdrawal are going to be very painful.

Your symptoms will immediately return when you are no longer using the nasal sprays, you will definitely be tempted to keep using them. For some people, the congestion and stuffiness is so bad that they feel completely unable to breathe. Many others feel forced to go back to the sprays, because they will be unable to sleep feel they cannot function for days while the symptoms wear off.

However, ever time you give in, and come back to the nasal sprays, you are only making the problem worse in the long run. Do your best and try to hold off. It is best to do this over a weekend, or even when you can take some time off of work or school as you may feel miserable for several days. But just like someone going through drug rehab, the short term pain is much better than the long term consequences of being addicted for many months or years.

Weaning Yourself Off by Lowering The Dosage (Easier but Slow Method)

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If you have severe difficulty breathing through your nose, or sleeping, or even focusing day to day, you should work on weaning yourself off of the decongestants slowly, without stopping cold turkey.

Weaning yourself off can be done by reducing the dosage of spray administered, which is accomplished by diluting the sprays bit by bit every day. If you plan on using the weaning method, it is best to consult a doctor before doing so.

Steps: (Consult a Doctor before attempting)

You Need:

  • A full bottle of your nasal spray
  • An empty bottle of spray
  • An eye dropper
  • A new bottle of water or saline solution

Week 1:

  • Dilute your nasal spray with 10% pure water (or saline).
  • For Example: Mix 9 drops of nasal spray with 1 drop of water in your empty spray bottle
  • Drop in 9 drops of spray, and 1 drop of water, and repeat until you think you have enough to last a full week.
  • Use this 90% nasal spray mix for 1 week.
  • Refil your empty spray bottle using the same process if needed

Week 2:

  • Empty the remaining solution you prepared for week 1.
  • Same steps as above, but dilute with 20% water.
  • 8 drops of nasal spray with 2 drops of water.
  • Use this 80% nasal spray mix for 1 week.

Week 3:

  • Dilute with 30% water and use 70% nasal spray.
  • 7 drops of spray with 3 drops of water.

Weeks 4 through 10:

  • Keep diluting the nasal spray by 10% every week. Eventually you will be using 100% water, at which point you can quit altogether.
Many people have used this dilution method with great success, and a lot less pain than stopping cold turkey. Most people who try it are able to stop completely by the time they get down to using only 20-30% nasal spray, and 70-80% water. This is because the side effects of stopping are a lot more tolerable. However, some people suggest using salt water, or even a saline solution to dilute your nasal spray. Therefore, it is best to ask your doctor to see what is recommended for you.

Additional Relief and Long Term Treatments

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Use a Nasal Irrigator

One of the hardest parts about getting over nasal spray addiction is being able to breathe while you do so! If you are tyring to quit the use of nasal sprays, one item that can make a big difference in your ability to breathe is a nasal irrigator.

A pulsating Nasal Irrigator is an extremely effective means to reduce nasal congestion and imrpove sinus related health. A Nasal Irrigator works by washing mucous and other debris out of your nose, throat, and sinus passages. This can reduce inflammation and congestion that you would typically use a nasal spray to relieve.

Read some customer reviews on the SinuPulse Advanced Nasal Irrigation System and see if it is something you would be interested in trying out.

In order relive your addiction, and to avoid ever getting addicted again, it is best to use a treatment other than nasal spray to relieve your congestion. Many people find relief with nasal irrigation.

Use a NetiPot

A neti pot is a cheaper alternative to a Nasal Irrigator. These are also used to wash out your sinuses with a saline solution and can be very effective. However, instead of pumping water through your sinuses with a Neti Pot, you're going to have to tip your head backwards and let the water run through on its own, which can feel rather unnatural at first. However, for the people who can get used to the feeling of water running down your nose, you can find a lot of relief from rhinitis and sinus issues with a neti pot.

Good Luck

Please feel free to send me a message in the contact form if you found any of this helpful, or if you would like more information. Good luck!

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