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 tea pot. 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.