Are you a nasal spray junkie?

Many of my patients came to me with the fear of being addicted to their over the counter nasal spray. Their breasts are chronically blocked and continue to use a nasal spray to get rid of them! They are not alone either. In fact, the researchers say there are 10 million Americans chronically addicted to using nasal sprays!

There was also a funny skit about nasal spray addiction on the TV sitcom, King of Queens. When everyone is gone, the father-in-law pulls out a hidden bottle of nasal spray, squirts a little into his nostrils and lays down on the sofa in a funny confused state, listening to jazz.

There is nothing funny, however, about serious medical problems, such as severely inflamed nasal tissues and nasal septum holes that can result from overuse of these chemical nasal sprays.

I’d like to talk to you about the safe use of nasal sprays and what you can do to stop your addiction to them. Then I’ll tell you about some natural and alternative decongestants that you can use that can both get rid of congested breasts, heal inflamed nasal tissues and stop swelling.

Nasal sprays: over the counter against a prescription

Although their labels clearly state that they shouldn’t be used more than 3 or 4 days at a time, people enjoy the rapid elimination of the congestion they offer and continue to use nasal sprays well beyond their deadlines. From this frequent use, the natural breast elimination mechanisms slow down or even stop and the use of the spray is the only thing that clears the blocked breasts.

This is called the rebound effect and can occur if you use them excessively. The rebound effect is really the addiction to these sprays that people experience, as they don’t contain any real addictive chemicals.

Two of the most popular OTC nasal decongestants are Afrin is Neo-synephrine. Both work very well in clearing up what occasional sinus congestion should be like that which manifests with a bad head cold. Both contain chemicals such as xylometazoline, oxymetazoline and phenylephrine which act quickly to eliminate congestion and are thought to be self-limiting.

Rhinostat, RhinoCort, Flonase – are some X-ray nasal sprays that doctors prescribe to their patients to wean them from OTC nasal sprays. They contain cortisone which reduces inflammation and swelling of the nasal tissues and does not have the rebound effect of OTC sprays.

Why are you using so much nasal spray?

Most people start using these sprays for good reason. Like my patients, most sought them for relief of congested breasts. However, what many people may not know is that their constant sinus congestion may be due to an allergy and a condition called allergic rhinitis.

When patients tell me they use sinus congestion spray, I like to find out first what is causing the congestion in the first place. Very often, or have a seasonal allergy, say pollen or mold in the air for spring or autumn; or year-round allergies to dust mites, pet hair and mold. Treating allergy first can prevent abuse of nasal sprays.

In order to determine if an allergy is the cause of congestion, I refer my patients to a specialist in the field of allergies and immunology who specifically deals with people’s allergies. There, they will do a skin test that involves putting about 100 of the most common allergens such as dust mites, ragweed, molds, pollen, animal hair on patches to determine the reaction.

If any allergenic patches are positive, then you have an allergy to that substance and you need to stay away from it to avoid allergic symptoms. Dust mites, molds and animal hair are year-round allergens that can cause chronic sinus congestion.

If you have dust or a pet in your home, you are constantly breathing dust mites and pet hair in the nasal airways causing inflammation, swelling and congestion. Dust mites are microscopic creatures that love to dig in carpets and blankets and can be anywhere. You will probably need to remove the carpets and make sure you wash the beds regularly. The use of a medical grade HEPA air filter can collect around 99% of allergens.

Pollen and mold are more related to the season and blow outdoors in spring and autumn. When you inhale them, they irritate the nasal passages. All types of upper respiratory allergens can also cause chronic inflammation of the lungs and / or asthma if the allergen is not treated or removed.

Sometimes, nasal polyps or other sinus diseases can be the culprit of your congestion. A visit to a doctor of the ear, nose and throat, who can examine the sinuses with a scope and / or X-rays, can determine if there is a physical obstruction in the sinuses that causes congestion. Less common food allergies can also be the cause of chronic sinus congestion, such as a sensitivity to milk, which can cause a lot of sinus phlegm. Gastric reflux disease can also be responsible for constant inflamed and congested sinuses.

What are the alternatives to OTC nasal sprays?

As you know, they are all about natural ailments treatments whenever possible. Although your particular addiction to OTC nasal sprays may require a short weaning with a prescription nasal spray, as mentioned above, there are some excellent alternatives that can help you both manage allergens and keep your breasts open once you get out of the OTC spray.

Neti-Pot: Fill with salt water based on 1 tablespoon of sea salt and hot water. Tilt your head to the side and pour the solution into a nostril. The water flows inside the nasal cavity and on the other side. Repeat on the other side. This washes away the allergens and breaks the congestion.

External stripes – There are bench nasal strips to be applied on the bridge of the nose that manually open the nasal passages to help you breathe better. These can also be used to get rid of OTC nasal sprays until you can determine an allergy or what else could cause congestion.

Oregano tincture – Found in health food stores where vitamins and other supplements are sold, a drop on the tongue can clear the breasts very effectively.

Aloe Vera and saline nasal spray – Also found in health food stores, this is a small bottle of salt water with aloe vera added to it. It can be used as a nasal spray to wash allergens from the nasal passages. It is very safe and does not cause the damage that other OTC sprays can cause.

Sinus Buster – Contains capsaicin (cayenne) which reduces inflammation, swelling, congestion. This is also a very safe alternative spray that uses the natural ingredient in chillies to eliminate the nasal passages.

Fenugreek and Bayberry – An old herbal remedy for sinusitis and congestion, mixed together in a capsule, opens the sinuses and decreases inflammation.

bromelain – An enzyme from the pineapple plant that reduces inflammation in the conditions of the upper respiratory tract (lungs and nasal sinuses).

Nasal congestion can be very uncomfortable to live with, especially if you find yourself breathing heavily with your mouth. This can cause chronically dry dryness and sore throat. You may be tempted to make some quick fixes with over-the-counter nasal sprays. While these products are fine for very short-term use if you have a bad cold, constant use can create more problems than they are worth. Try some of the natural remedies for decongestion that I have listed here and / or visit your doctor if chronic sinus congestion is a problem and get to the bottom of what is causing it.

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