Nasal Decongestant Addiction is Real
Did you know that from birth, we are designed to breathe through our nose and not through our mouth? This is called obligate nasal breathing. Allergies and sinusitis are not the only reasons that can cause nasal congestion. Some other causes include cigarette smoking, hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems, colds and even overusing decongestant sprays. Yup, the very thing used to open your nose can make it worse and it can happen in as little as 3 days. Read the fine print on the bottle.
When your nose is congested, it forces you to breathe through your mouth and this is not ideal. Inhaled air through the mouth bypasses the natural humidifier and filter that occurs in the nasal cavity and sinuses. This in turn causes the mouth to be dry leading to changes in taste, ulcers or sores in the mouth, thick saliva and difficulty swallowing. Pinch your nose and try breathing through your mouth for a while and you will see why it is a problem.
Just like my patients, most people want to fix their nasal blockage quickly. It is just human nature and now you know why. We are supposed to breathe through our nose! Unfortunately, too many people turn to over the counter decongestant sprays because they do work fast. How do they work you ask? The medication constricts the blood vessels in the mucous membranes lining the nose. This causes the swollen tissues to physically shrink and open the passageways. Wow! This sounds amazing. Well, it is…kinda. It sure does open the nose but continued use has a negative effect. It causes rebound congestion and sometimes it can be irreversible. Over time, you have to keep using the spray multiple times a day in order to get the same results. This leads people to become addicted to using the decongestant sprays. It is common for them to have a bottle in their purse, their pocket, their nightstand, their car, and anywhere in hands reach. One patient I saw was addicted to decongestant sprays for 16 years! When I was able to get her off this medication, she just cried.
Using an essential oil nasal inhaler is a great natural, non-medicated alternative to ease breathing when your nose is congested. And the best thing yet, it doesn’t cause rebound congestion or addiction. If you are struggling with nasal congestion and find yourself addicted to decongestant sprays, know that there is help for you. Consider seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, like myself, if your nasal breathing continues to be a problem despite trying natural options. Remember, sometimes the negative effects of the decongestant sprays can be permanent and may need more intensive treatment.