I have to confess something, I have an addiction to nasal spray. Actually, the Mayo-Clinic calls it a rebound effect rather than an addiction, but I could not make it through the day without it, therefore, I call it an addiction.
For months I relied on nasal spray to allow me to breathe, it would be the first thing I did in the mornings and the last thing I would do at night before going to sleep. I kept a bottle on my nightstand beside the bed, a bottle in my purse, and at times would have a bottle in my car. If we were going somewhere and realized we had forgotten the nasal spray, we would turn around and go back for it or stop and buy a new bottle. - I say "we" here because my husband has the same addiction.
Our addiction started with allergies and nasal congestion. Originally I bought Afrin No Drip Severe Congestion with Menthol. It worked amazingly at keeping our sinus' clear plus it would give that little extra jolt of menthol to open up your head. I could use it in the morning and breathe normally all day. But, after just a few days of using it, I was also having to use it before going to sleep to be able to breath all night. After a while, I was also having to use it during the day. If we visited a place with particularly dry air I would have to use my spray. It became so that I was dependent on the spray just to be able to make it through out the day.
I was buying 4 to 6 boxes at a time, every few weeks which was getting quite expensive. The Afrin at our local Walmart runs around $7.98 per bottle so it was at this time that I switched to the store brand equivalent. You got twice as much product for half the price, and it worked just as well for me, minus the blast of menthol.
During all of this, I never once connected my nasal spray to the symptoms I was having - dryness and stuffiness, itchy nose, sneezing, headaches. All of these things I contributed to my allergies. Then, a few months ago, I had a nurse friend at work notice the bottle sitting on my desk and he cautioned me on using too much. He told me that the way nasal spray works is to constrict the blood vessels which is not something a person with high blood pressure already, such as myself, should be doing frequently.
This made me stop and think about what I was truly doing to my body, but I didn't seriously consider quitting until just a few weeks ago. I have been having a really hard time sleeping lately and while doing some more research on the side effects of nasal spray, I noticed that sleep disturbances were one of them, along with a whole host of others. So, I decided it was time and no matter how difficult, I had to do it.
I started out by doing some research on how to kick the habit, so to speak, and decided on two ways that I would try. One way was to add saline solution to my nasal spray and continue using it. As the bottle emptied, continue filling it with more saline solution, watering down the nasal spray and weaning myself off of it. This was going to be my Plan B.
I decided first I would try only using the nasal spray in one nostril, allowing the other nostril to heal and adjust back to not having the spray. It would be stuffy and congested but I should be able to breathe through the nostril that I was still using the spray in during this process. After a while, the nostril that I wasn't using the spray in would go back to normal and I would be able to breathe through it and not use the spray at all, allowing the last nostril to adjust back to normal.
It has been two weeks today since I started the process of only using it on one side and one week since I have used it at all. I still have some stuffiness and dryness, but it's tolerable and I'm hopeful that in a few more days and I will be back to normal, though I may use a saline solution to help with the dryness and to help clean my sinus'.
I can already tell a huge difference in the amount of sneezing I'm doing - or rather, not doing and the itchiness is pretty much non-existent. Overall, I am very happy with my decision to kick the nasal spray habit. Now if I can just get the hubby to give it a go.
If you are considering using Nasal Spray, I caution you to please only use as directed.