Most of us are somewhat addicted to something: shopping, chocolate, caffeine. Maybe you’re even addicted to something more powerful, like nicotine. However, you probably never knew you could be addicted to your allergy nasal spray. As it turns out though, those who suffer from perpetual congestion often abuse their nasal sprays because they’re not aware of the negative side effects associated with overuse.

Saline Nasal Sprays:

These allergy nasal sprays only contain water and salt. Some versions contain preservatives meant to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. In any case, these are safe to use, and there are no associated risks simply because they contain no medication.

Steroid Nasal Sprays:

These allergy nasal sprays contain corticosteroids, steroids used to reduce inflammation caused by an overactive immune system. Because they do not begin working immediately, they need to be used every day to be effective. Patients can only obtain steroid nasal sprays with a doctor’s prescription because overuse can cause nosebleeds, headaches, cataracts, and even slowed growth in children.

Antihistamine Nasal Sprays:

These allergy nasal sprays treat seasonal allergy symptoms by directly targeting histamines, the chemical released during immune responses. Because this medication is applied directly to the nose, it is often more effective and safer than pills. Patients can use over-the-counter antihistamine sprays like cromolyn sodium on a daily basis for up to 12 weeks without worrying about side effects.

Decongestant Nasal Sprays:

These allergy nasal sprays will cause the blood vessels in your nose to constrict thereby providing temporary relief. They contain oxymetazoline and pseudoephedrine and are known to be addictive. When the medicine wears off, the nasal tissues will swell creating a sort of “rebound congestion.” If you’ve been using decongestant nasal sprays more and more frequently, you might need to have a physician check for excessive swelling.

Allergy Nasal Spray Alternatives:

Alternatively, you could use a neti pot to flush out mucus and allergens. A neti pot looks a little bit like a teapot. By pouring water in one nostril and letting it drip out the other, you’ll be able to treat your symptoms without using any medicine whatsoever. However, you should make sure to use sterilized water and to clean your neti pot regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria.

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