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Health & Fit Are nasal decongestants actually 'addictive'?

23:45  19 february  2018
23:45  19 february  2018 Source:   self.com

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Nasal decongestants are high on the list of seemingly innocent things people swear are addictive . But, hello, it’s cold and flu season. While it’s easy to dismiss the concept of reliance on nasal decongestants as a health urban legend, doctors say it can actually happen.

Nasal decongestants are high on the list of seemingly innocent things people swear are addictive . But, hello, it’s cold and flu season. While it’s easy to dismiss the concept of reliance on nasal decongestants as a health urban legend, doctors say it can actually happen.

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Nasal decongestants are high on the list of seemingly innocent things people swear are actually “addictive.” But, hello, it’s cold and flu season. What else are you supposed to do besides basically keep a bottle of the stuff up your nose at all times? If it’s going to take expert input to pry that nasal decongestant spray from your feverish, snotty hands...well, that’s what we’re here for. While it’s easy to dismiss the concept of reliance on nasal decongestants as a health urban legend, doctors say it can actually happen.

“This dependency is real,” Alfred Sassler, D.O., an otolaryngologist (a doctor who specializes in the ear, nose, and throat) with UC Health and an associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Cincinnati, tells SELF. “When something is over the counter like a nasal decongestant spray, people think it’s safe and there’s nothing to worry about, but you can get hooked on them.”

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Nasal decongestants are high on the list of seemingly innocent things people swear are addictive . But, hello, it’s cold and flu season. While it’s easy to dismiss the concept of reliance on nasal decongestants as a health urban legend, doctors say it can actually happen.

Originally Answered: Are nasal decongestant addictive ? I don’t know why I asked this question when I already know the answer….and now I’m going to answer my own question…ABSOLUTELY! They don’t warn people enough about this issue!

To be clear, it’s not like there’s danger in getting “hooked” on nasal decongestant spray the way there is with something like opioids. But using this kind of medicine for too long can spark a habit that might be surprisingly tough to break.

It’s important to know how nasal decongestant sprays work before understanding how you might become too dependent on them.

Inside the walls of your nose, you have three pairs of long, thin bones called nasal turbinates, which are covered with a layer of tissue that can swell up, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. When you inhale something like a cold virus or an allergy trigger like dust or pet dander, those nasal turbinates can expand, leading to congestion, Dr. Sassler says.

Decongestants, which contain ingredients like pseudoephedrine, work by narrowing swollen blood vessels in your nasal tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. “The primary reason to use a decongestant is to make more room for breathing,” Dr. Sassler says.

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Over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays can be used to temporarily relieve symptoms The continuous use of nasal sprays for several days in a row can actually cause rebound congestion Whether or not nasal sprays are chemically addictive is still debated in the medical community, but

These drugs come in many forms, like syrups, pills, and of course, nasal sprays. The mechanism is pretty much the same no matter which kind you take, except that the spray just affects the blood vessels in your nose, while a decongestant you take orally works throughout your entire body, Joseph DePietro, M.D., an otolaryngologist with ENT and Allergy Associates in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., tells SELF.

When you use nasal decongestant spray for more than a few days, your body can actually create rebound nasal stuffiness when you stop.

Nasal decongestant spray can definitely help you feel less stuffed up at first. But using them for more than three or so days can eventually make you feel worse once the medication wears off.

This is due to a Harry Potter-sounding phenomenon called rhinitis medicamentosa, according to the Mayo Clinic. (It’s also sometimes called rebound rhinitis or drug-induced rhinitis.) Basically, your nasal tissues develop a tolerance to the spray and require that you use more of it to keep the blood vessels constricted. “You think you need the spray to help you decongest, [but] in reality, it's actually plugging you up,” Ileana Showalter, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF. As a result, you feel like your congestion is getting worse and you keep using more of the spray, creating a bad cycle.

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Consumer information about nasal decongestants and antihistamines including a list of the short-acting and long-acting decongestants , side effects, drug interactions, and safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

A decongestant , or nasal decongestant , is a type of pharmaceutical drug that is used to relieve nasal congestion in the upper respiratory tract.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use nasal decongestant sprays at all. “I tell my patients that it’s OK to use a nasal decongestant spray for one, two, or three days,” Anthony Del Signore, M.D., Pharm.D., director of rhinology and endoscopic skull base surgery at Mount Sinai Union Square, tells SELF. After that, he says, you’re more likely to become dependent on them.

Many nasal decongestant sprays even straight up say on the label that you shouldn’t exceed three days of use. If you’re still really congested after that, you can switch to other forms of decongestants, which typically don’t have the same three-day limit. Though these can also cause rebound congestion, they’re not as likely to do so since they’re diffused throughout your body instead of applied directly inside your nose, Dr. Sassler says.

If you suspect you’re dependent on your nasal decongestant spray, it’s helpful to see a doctor who can make a plan for you to taper off.

Some nasal decongestant spray users don’t understand why they’re so stuffy and end up at the doctor’s office, where they’re often clued-in to their dependency, while others figure it out without a doctor’s help, says Dr. Del Signore. Even if you have this epiphany on your own, it’s still important to see a doctor. They can make sure there’s not a serious reason for your congestion, like a migraine masquerading as a sinus headache. They can also help you figure out how to taper off the spray. Sure, you could go cold turkey if you like, but this can really, really suck. The rebound swelling without any relief means you’re going to walk around feeling like you have a bad cold for a week or more, Dr. Sassler says.

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Use of nasal decongestants causes nasal receptors that respond to decongestants to down-regulate (reduce in numbers) which leads to congestion. When evaluating you for rebound congestion, your physician will take a thorough medication usage history as well as perform a nasal exam.

Nasal decongestants are used to provide relief to inflamed and irritated sinuses, according to FamilyDoctor.org. The sinuses are large cavities Oxymetazoline is a powerful drug used as the active ingredient in most over the counter decongestant nasal sprays. The drug restricts blood flow to the

Instead, most doctors will recommend that you steadily wean yourself off the spray. Each has their own method, and it may change depending on what’s causing your congestion, but it could be reducing how often you use the spray each day in increments until you’re no longer using it, or diluting it with saline nasal spray. That way, it still constricts your blood vessels, but not as much, and eventually you can use it less over time. “I’ve seen some success with that,” Dr. Sassler says.

To help ease the transition, your doctor may also recommend you use a nasal spray with corticosteroids from an over-the-counter brand like Flonase, Dr. DePietro says. These also combat nasal congestion, but rather than working directly on your nose’s blood vessels, they reduce your body’s production of inflammation-causing chemicals, according to the Cleveland Clinic. That way, “limiting the nasal decongestant and stopping it should be slightly easier,” Dr. DePietro says.

The amount of time it will take to get over nasal decongestant spray dependency varies based on what caused your stuffiness in the first place and how long you’ve been hooked on the spray. But if you don’t have an underlying condition, you should feel better within a week of beginning to taper off, Dr. Showalter says, so you can finally breathe easy.

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