Summertime fun can be stopped short by a summer cold or lingering allergies. Decongestant nasal spray can provide relief from inflamed nasal passages, allowing you to breathe easy again.

Over-relying on nasal sprays can have harmful effects, though. For some people, using nasal spray for more than 5 consecutive days can cause more congestion! This is a condition caused by the medication called rhinitis medicamentosa.

Rhinitis medicamentosa causes damage to the nasal passages, rendering the medication ineffective. The active ingredients in over-the-counter nasal sprays, oxymetazoline, naphazoline, xylometazoline, and phenyleprine, work to constrict blood vessels in the nose, opening passages and relieving congestion. When a person uses nasal sprays for too long, a rebound effect can occur, causing the person to experience quick relief for about 30 minutes and then become more congested.

Overuse of nasal sprays can also lead to other side effects, including headache, coughing, nasal passage swelling (inflammation), increased risk of sinus infection, and, rarely, tears in the nostril membranes.

Don’t let that scare you from getting the relief you need. When used properly, decongestant nasal sprays are effective and safe. Overuse, however, is a problem and can lead your ENT doctor to incorrectly diagnose what is causing the inflammation.

As with any over-the-counter medication, it’s very important to follow all of the directions and indications on the box. If you have questions or concerns or experience nasal congestion for more than a week, contact your OrlandoENT professional.


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