I’m Addicted to Nose Sprays: What Can I Do?
Welcome to the club! Many Americans suffer from a chronic stuffy nose
associated with prolonged or too frequent use of the spray decongestants such as
Afrin™, Vicks™, Duration™, or Sinex™. My medical practice is well prepared for noses
like yours. We can help you crack this addiction!
First of all, prolonged use of the nose sprays is a common, mild addiction. The
problem is, the only treatment that helps you breathe better is to use more of the same
nose spray. That’s how we define an addiction. The drug actually makes your nose
happier when it receives a dose -- but the congestion just keeps on going.
The best way to break an addiction is to use another, non-addicting drug in place
of the addicting spray. Most sufferers can use salt-water nose drops; substitute a nonaddicting
tablet in place of the addicting nose spray; and slowly taper (decrease) the
dose or frequency of the spray now being used.
We recommend the following home trial
1. Count the number of times per day the spray is used
2. What amount of spray is used each time?
3. Substitute a medicine that contains an oral decongestant, such as Sudafed™
or Actifed™ in place of the addicting nose spray.
[Caution is needed if you have high blood pressure or a history of rapid heart beat. If
either of these two conditions applies, schedule an appointment to discuss your
condition with me]
4. Start flushing your nose with one of the over-the-counter saline (salt) water
nose sprays 3 - 4 puffs in each nostril 6 - 8 times per day. Blow your nose after flushing
vigorously to loosen thickened mucus.
5. Cut back one dose per day of your favored addicting spray. Every three days
decrease the frequency by another dose. For example, if you are squirting 6 times per
day, make the trial frequency 5 times per day for three days, then cut down to 4 times
per day, and so on, until you have achieved your goal.
6. Make your last dose to decrease -- the bedtime dose. That way you can get
some sleep each night. This will be the hardest dose to remove, especially if nighttime stuffiness is common.
If these measures are not working, another disease may be causing your
symptoms. Please schedule an appointment to discuss your symptoms and allow us to help. We can help you stop using the medications that so commonly cause these