Warning: Some Over-The-Counter, Popular Nasal Sprays May Be Addictive

A warning Thursday for the many people using over-the-counter nasal sprays: One type has to be used very carefully....

Posted: May 25, 2018 7:05 PM
Updated: May 25, 2018 7:05 PM

A warning Thursday for the many people using over-the-counter nasal sprays: One type has to be used very carefully.

It can actually make your nasal stuffiness worse and create serious problems, including addiction.

We're in prime allergy season, so millions of people are using nasal sprays to relieve stuffiness.

They are very effective and safe when used as directed, and that's the key, because they can have some surprising side effects.

Whether it's all the pollen in the air during spring allergy season, or just a plain old head cold, nasal congestion is one of the most common complaints people have all year round.

"Especially in allergy season, I have chronic congestion," said Shanna Cohen.

Like millions of others, Cohen turns to nasal sprays for relief. But she has learned the hard way which to use and how to use them safely.

Plain saline sprays are good for moisture and to flush pollen out of the nose, but they won't do much for stuffiness. That's where decongestant sprays are very effective.

"There are over the counter sprays that shrink the blood vessels in your nose and give relief, but they squeeze and have side effects," said Dr. Clifford Bassett of Ashtma & Allergy Care of New York. "That can cause rebound congestion, where the stuffiness, where the problem is worse than it was in the first place."

The problem is that the mucus membranes of the nose are swollen and inflamed, whether from pollen or viruses, WCBS-TV's Max Gomez reported.

Decongestant sprays shrink the the blood vessels in those membranes, reducing the swelling and allowing you to breather. But eventually, those tiny blood vessels stop responding to the sprays. That's called rebound congestion.

"I've had some bad rebound congestion for a couple of days where nothing does the trick," Cohen said.

That leads to using more of the spray, less effect, and more overuse – nasal spray addiction and possible side effects, Gomez reported.

"People who overuse for long time, nasal perforations, nose bleeds are complications of the drying effect of using nasal decongestants more than indicated, weeks and longer," said Basett.

The sprays that are safe are nasal steroids. They are anti-inflammatory and shrink the mucus membranes without drying or rebound effect.

Those steroid sprays can take a few days to take effect. That's why people turn to the decongestants for immediate relief.

To be clear: The decongestants are safe and effective when used correctly. Just read the labels.

If you need them for days or weeks, see a doctor for an alternative.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 31715

Reported Deaths: 1984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9189533
Lake3299167
Cass15826
Allen127766
St. Joseph117034
Hendricks112367
Hamilton109992
Johnson1082104
Elkhart100827
Madison58258
Porter48721
Bartholomew48033
Clark45838
LaPorte40821
Tippecanoe3733
Jackson3611
Howard35618
Delaware35434
Hancock31927
Shelby31421
Floyd31338
Boone28235
Morgan26124
Vanderburgh2482
Montgomery22717
White2268
Decatur22431
Clinton2151
Noble18520
Grant18520
Harrison18521
Dubois1822
Greene16723
Warrick16426
Dearborn16221
Monroe16010
Henry1597
Vigo1477
Lawrence14322
Miami1391
Putnam1337
Jennings1274
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Carroll922
Kosciusko861
Daviess8216
Steuben792
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne695
Fayette654
Marshall641
LaGrange602
Jasper561
Washington521
Fulton471
Rush452
Jay430
Jefferson411
Randolph403
Pulaski390
Clay391
Whitley392
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
Owen311
DeKalb291
Perry270
Huntington262
Benton250
Knox240
Crawford230
Wells230
Tipton221
Blackford201
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Parke170
Posey170
Spencer161
Gibson142
Ohio130
Adams121
Warren121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0152

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 112017

Reported Deaths: 4885
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook730973324
Lake7723250
DuPage7207340
Kane5761152
Will5188258
Winnebago195351
McHenry142767
St. Clair99172
Kankakee79942
Kendall71419
Rock Island63622
Champaign5647
Madison53954
Boone39716
Sangamon33126
DeKalb3253
Randolph2593
Jackson22810
McLean21110
Ogle1922
Stephenson1902
Macon18819
Peoria1797
Clinton17716
Out of IL1641
Union1417
LaSalle14012
Whiteside13410
Iroquois1304
Coles1169
Warren1140
Unassigned1100
Jefferson10116
Knox940
Monroe9211
Grundy892
McDonough835
Lee771
Cass670
Henry670
Tazewell673
Williamson551
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin411
Perry410
Pulaski400
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan341
Christian334
Livingston312
Douglas270
Jo Daviess270
Fayette202
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Mason170
Menard170
Woodford172
Shelby161
Bureau151
Mercer150
Carroll132
Hancock130
Franklin120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Piatt110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Schuyler100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 80°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 76°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 76°
Rockville
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 71°
Casey
Few Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 79°
Brazil
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 80°
Marshall
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 80°
No Major Changes
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events