So, what’s behind this insidious condition that causes so much suffering? Sinus disease or Sinusitis is the initial culprit. Almost 40 million Americans suffer from this condition, making it the most common chronic disease in the U.S. If left untreated, Sinusitis can lead to other serious ailments including asthma attacks, meningitis, as well as severe tooth and ear ache. But what exactly is Sinusitis and how is it connected to nasal spray addiction?
Basically Sinusitis is an inflammation of the hollow cavities around and behind your nose. The cause of this inflammation are many and varied. They include:
Household and Airborne Allergens
Cold or Dry Air
A predisposition due to family history
Any one of these “triggers” can cause inflammation and swelling of the delicate tissues lining the inside of your nose. Mucus is produced which carries white cells whose purpose is to seek and destroy harmful bacteria.
The problem begins when an excess amount of mucus is produced. The inflamed and swollen sinus cavities cannot drain the excess. The sinuses become blocked and pressure, congestion, and infection may result.
If you’re like many people, your first reaction may be to seek out and use an over-the-counter nasal spray for relief. If you’re one of those persons, don’t beat yourself up! Being unable to breathe through your own nose is extremely uncomfortable to say the least. Our first instinct is to achieve relief as quickly as possible. I know the feeling well. I remember how amazed and grateful I felt at how quickly my nasal spray opened my congested nose.
Nasal Spray Addiction May Be In Your Future
When you first use certain brands of decongestants, the swollen lining of the nose begins to shrink, allowing for free breathing. Depending on the brand you’re using, the chemicals responsible for this shrinkage are Phenylephrine, and Oxymetazoline.
The problem is that after about 3-5 days the lining of your nose will develop a tolerance to the drugs. The temptation is then to use more of the nasal spray to achieve the same result. But the more you use, the greater the tolerance and the shorter the relief period between doses.
This type of condition is called Rhinitis Medicamentosa. It is also known as rebound congestion. It will occur even after the original problem (Sinusitis) is no longer present. At this point, it’s the nasal spray, and not the disease that is causing the congestion.
Remember I mentioned earlier that many medical experts do not consider addiction to the sprays to be a true addiction. This may be true but if you’re one of the unfortunate ones hooked on nasal sprays, then any such play with words and terms provides very little comfort. You’re hooked!
The Nasal Spray Addiction Cycle Can Be Broken
Looking back, I realize that next to total cold turkey, the way I broke my dependence to the sprays was one of the toughest ways of doing things. I barely gave the medication my doctor prescribed a chance to work. I’m sure that I created a great deal of pain and unnecessary suffering for myself. As I’ve discovered in the years since, there are less stressful ways of dealing with this condition.