How To Beat Nasal Spray Addiction - Natural Treatments and Remedies

Published: 13th August 2010
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Treating nasal spray addiction with natural remedies is becoming more popular. Unfortunately millions of people worldwide suffer from this medical condition.

Nasal spray addiction (Rhinitis Medicamentosa) is the term used to describe the dependency on over the counter decongestant nasal sprays due to them causing rebound congestion (congestion worse than before the nasal spray was used). 

Over the counter decongestant nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline, xylometazoline, phenylepherine etc. (topical vacoconstrictors) temporarily reduce the size of the nasal turbinates, open the nasal passages and provide relief from nasal congestion etc. However when these are used for more than 3 consecutive days they cause rebound congestion. Rebound congestion is the result of abnormal hypertrophy (enlargement) and swelling of the nasal membranes. This blocks the nasal passages causing the nasal congestion and associated symptoms. This rebound congestion is temporarily relieved by using the offending nasal spray. Therefore a vicious cycle of dependency ensues.

The delicate lining of the nasal passages can be permanently damaged.

Nasal congestion and difficulty breathing

Runny nose

Sinus/facial pain

Sinus/facial tenderness

Sinus/facial pressure,


Pain in teeth

Pain in jaw

Pain in ears,

Pain through and around eyes



Drainage of a thick yellow or green discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat (post nasal drip)

Reduced sense of smell and taste

Cough (which may be worse at night)


Sore throat and halitosis (bad breath).


Sleep disorders

Anxiety and nervousness

Chronic nose bleeds

Perforated septum

Dry/crusty nasal passages

Rapid heart beat

It is important to note that the nasal spray addiction is a consequence of using a decongestant nasal spray to relieve the symptoms of a previous sinus condition. Therefore once the nasal spray addiction has been dealt with it may still be necessary to treat the cause of the original sinus condition such as infection or allergies (see my other articles).

Discontinue use - Going 'cold turkey' and stopping use of the decongestant nasal spray can eventually break the dependency. However this can cause sleep deprivation, anxiety, extreme nasal congestion etc. and general suffering and misery.

Natural nasal sprays - Natural nasal sprays such as SinuSoothe are doctor recommended and can be used to replace the offending decongestant nasal spray. SinuSoothe relieves nasal congestion, inflammation, pain, headaches etc. and can be used regularly on a long term basis. It has no side effects, is non-addictive and doesn't cause rebound congestion. Since the active ingredients improve blood flow and regenerate cell production it can help heal any damaged nasal tissue. It can also treat any underlying bacterial/fungal infections and allergies that may have caused the initial sinus condition.

Saline nasal sprays - Saline nasal sprays such as Sterimar may be useful for moisturising the nasal passages and relieving nasal congestion. They can be either isotonic or hypertonic solutions. These can be used long term, have no side effects and are non-addictive. They may help reduce inflammation. Unfortunately for many sufferers saline nasal sprays are ineffective.

Nasal irrigation - A neti pot is used to irrigate the sinuses with either an isotonic or hypertonic solution. An isotonic solution has the same salt concentration as your body. A hypertonic solution has a higher salt content and may be more useful at drawing moisture and mucous from the sinuses. This may help reduce inflammation and relieve nasal congestion. It is a good practice for keeping your sinuses clean and removing irritants. It is completely safe provided you use the correct saline solution. However it is usually carried out in the home environment, is not convenient and many people either do not like the process and/or find it difficult to do.

Gradual Weaning - You can wean yourself off of the offending nasal spray by diluting it with saline solution. This should be done gradually ie. 90% decongestant to 10% saline for 1 week. The following week could be 80% decongestant to 20% saline and so on.

Natural anti-inflammatories - Since the symptoms of sinusitis, allergies and rhinitis are caused by inflammation it follows that by reducing inflammation you will reduce the severity of the symptoms. Omega 3,6 &9 oils, vitamin C, turmeric and ginger are all excellent natural anti-inflammatories. There are plenty of others and your local health food store should be able to advise you on these. It usually takes about 4 weeks for these to start taking effect.

As with all medical conditions you should consult your doctor before undertaking new treatments.

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