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Updated on August 13, 2013

Dependency versus Addiction

Dependency is when your body relies on something for relief.

Nasal spray is intended for short term use, sprayed in the nostrils to reduce swelling but overuse makes the swelling continue and makes you need the nasal spray even more for rebound swelling and inflammation and continued use can cause damage to the delicate membranes inside the nose.

The more you use it, the more you need it to reduce the swelling. It's not because your body craves the chemicals or medication in the nasal spray. A person can be dependent on insulin, for example, but not addicted to it.

Addiction is when your body craves something. When you crave a particular addictive substance and become obsessed with obtaining it to get the fix.

Regardless of the definition, dependency on nasal spray is a personal, aggravating dependency for 10 million Americans.

Ignorance is Not Bliss!

It says right on the labels of most nasal sprays that you shouldn't overuse them. But boy when the annoyance of not breathing through the nostrils sets in, you tend to ignore those warnings!

From allergens to bad colds, the fact is, when overused, nasal spray can become something your nasal passages need so you can breathe easier.

Whatever the reason for dependence, there is a way out! The shame is not the "addiction" but in not asking for the help you need.


Lasting Effects & Damage

I have read numerous medical articles and there are a variety of concerns over long-term dependency on over-the-counter nasal sprays.

  • Possible nasal polyps
  • Possible impending damage requiring nasal surgery
  • Rises in blood pressure
  • General damage to the nasal passages
  • Nose bleeds
  • Long term use can cause damage to vital organs

So what does a person do to overcome this annoying dependence?

Alternatives and Weaning Off Nasal Spray

There are a few ways to get off nasal spray:

1) Use the nasal spray in only one nostril as needed. After 3 days to several weeks, that nostril will open on it's own. Then you switch to the other nostril and do the same thing.

2) The other success stories I have read by people who have been dependent for as long as 30 years is to dilute the nasal spray with normal nasal saline solution. This is available next to the nasal sprays. You keep diluting the nasal spray with the nasal saline solution as you go and eventually, you will not need the nasal spray. The nasal saline solution is just a flush and you do not become dependent on it.

3) Combining options one and two above, may be even better.

4) According to MEDICAL NEWS TODAY, there is a natural pepper spray that is an alternative as well which is called "Sinus Buster". You may want to go to the website for more information.

5) Check with your doctor to see if they might prescribe you something to help you breathe better during your weaning time.


If you have success with ending your dependency on nasal spray, please drop me a line and let me know how you did it. If my article helped you end your dependency, I would love to hear from you.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I had heard about this. A vicious cycle. Visene carries some of the same hazards.

      Important knowledge here.

    • profile image

      Marcy 3 years ago

      I find myself using nasal spray for a couple of months a a time and then having to wean off. It is hard to wean off anything if you are under stress, but it is good to try. I have found that no matter how stopped my nose is, it will temporarily open up with aerobic exercise, which I try to do every hour for about 10 minutes to keep opening the passage. At night taking oral phenylephrine helps a little, but it is mostly just 3 days of suffering not breathing well. You just have to accept the suffering for a bit.

    • profile image

      Jen 3 years ago

      Tried cold turkey and couldn't do it. The sinus pain and headache was unbearable!!! So I went to the store to get saline and mixed it with the little dristan I had left. It's mixed about 4 parts saline to 1 part dristan. While my sinus isn't perfect it did take away the preasure and I can breath ok, not perfect but ok. Every couple days I will dilute it more till I am off the crap!

      While nasal spray does work, it is evil horrid stuff! I have been dependant on t 2 straight years and it's bad! I can't leave the house without it. I use it every hour or so.

      This method does seem to be working.