At my office, we see a lot of patients who come in complaining about terrible sinus congestion. Many of these people may have chosen to treat their congestion with nasal sprays like Afrin, and when we hear that, it quickly becomes obvious why their congestion worsened as time passed.
Shocking as it may seem for many patients, it could have been the very medicine they took that could have caused the terrible congestion they feel. By the time they enter our offices, the Afrin has already done serious damage. If you’ve been feeling under the weather after taking Afrin for congestion, you’re not alone—and chances are, you need to talk to a professional about it.
What Is Afrin?
Afrin is an over-the-counter nasal spray that’s designed to relieve nasal congestion for about 12 hours. By stimulating the smooth muscles inside your nose, your nose’s blood vessels will constrict, which in turn, reduces congestion. It sounds great, and when you first try it-it really works amazingly well. Unfortunately, Afrin has some serious side effects that make it less than great for people who need chronic sinus relief.
As Afrin’s use began to increase, people began to notice that using Afrin would often mean having even worse congestion after a few days. This is because Afrin has a tendency to make the blood vessels in your nose swell after it leaves your body.This is called a “rebound” effect and causes you to keep reaching for more. As a result, there have been some cases where people become physically addicted to Afrin in order to just breathe normally.Afrin
Addiction Is Real
Crazy as it may sound, the long term use of many over-the -counter medications may not be safe. In the case of Afrin, use for more than 3 days has been very strongly tied to addiction. In many cases, the spray will also stop working for the 12-hour period that it once guaranteed, making the person seeking relief spray multiple times throughout a typical day.
At our office, we strongly advise against using decongestant nasal sprays unless absolutely necessary and cleared by a doctor. We even have a special name for Afrin or decongestant abuse:rhinitis medicamentosa.
Not uncommonly, long-term addiction to Afrin and other decongestant nasal sprays can lead to permanent damage in your sinus system. Sometimes, the damage done even begins to resemble a chemical burn or a lifetime of sinus infections inside your nose.
The irritation that people feel from Afrin’s afterburner is no laughing matter, and can cause serious disturbance to your sleep schedule. Many people who have become addicted to Afrin claim that they now use it because it’s the only way they can sleep.
So, if you are using Afrin right now, it would be very wise to discontinue it or seek help from a specialized physician who may help you find any relief.
There’s A Better Option
Afrin is a drug that is designed to treat symptoms, rather than causes. If used for a couple of days, it can help congestion subside—even if it doesn’t do anything to help the original cause. However, the risk of addiction is high enough to make a reasonable person think twice about using it without a physician’s advice.
A better option for people who want to cure their congestion once and for all would be to ditch the Afrin and talk to a sinus professional. A doctor who specializes in sinus care will be able to diagnose the issue that’s causing the congestion. Then, based on what the diagnosis is, your treatment can begin.
When you’re dealing with a doctor who specializes in sinus care, you can rest assured that the treatment you’ll receive will be as permanent as possible and will avoid the negative side effects that you would get through Afrin. Sinus specialists can also help allay the symptoms of Afrin withdrawal if you already have made the mistake of using it to “cure” your congestion.
Rather than try to help your congestion symptoms through the use of over-the-counter medications, you should consider reaching out to a sinus specialist. At the office of Dr. Tadros, we have the experience, tools, and knowledge you need in order to ensure that you’ll be able to breathe easily and safely throughout the day and night.
To schedule a consultation call: NYC: (212) 532-4590 or NJ: (201) 408-5430