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The Best Alternatives To Vicks Sinex, Sudafed, Afrin And Dristan Decongestant Nasal Sprays

Updated on September 11, 2010

I know people who have used these tried and tested treatments and have cured their nasal spray addiction. Please read on and hopefully they will cure your nasal spray addiction also.

What is nasal spray addiction?

Nasal spray addiction or Rhinitis Medicamentosa as it is otherwise known is the dependency on over the counter decongestant nasal sprays such as vicks sinex, sudafed, afrin and dristan These nasal sprays cause rebound congestion (congestion worse than before the nasal spray was used).

What causes it?

Over the counter decongestant nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline, xylometazoline, phenylepherine etc. temporarily reduce the size of the nasal turbinates, open the nasal passages and provide relief from nasal congestion etc. However when these are used for more than 3 consecutive days they cause rebound congestion. Rebound congestion is the result of abnormal hypertrophy (enlargement) and swelling of the nasal membranes. This blocks the nasal passages causing the nasal congestion and associated symptoms. This rebound congestion is temporarily relieved by using the offending nasal spray. Therefore a vicious cycle of dependency ensues.

The delicate lining of the nasal passages can be permanently damaged.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms can include any of the following;

  • Nasal congestion and difficulty breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Sinus/facial pain
  • Sinus/facial tenderness
  • Sinus/facial pressure,
  • Headaches
  • Pain in teeth
  • Pain in jaw
  • Pain in ears,
  • Pain through and around eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Drainage of a thick yellow or green discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat (post nasal drip)
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Cough (which may be worse at night)
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat and halitosis (bad breath).
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disorders
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Chronic nose bleeds
  • Perforated septum
  • Dry/crusty nasal passages
  • Rapid heart beat

What are the best alternative treatments available?

Natural nasal sprays - Natural nasal sprays such as SinuSoothe can be used to replace the offending decongestant nasal spray. SinuSoothe is doctor recommended and relieves inflammation, nasal congestion and other associated symptoms.

Wean off decongestant gradually - It is possible to gradually wean yourself off of the offending decongestant nasal spray. Dilute it with a saline solution (a saline nasal spray would be ideal) say 90% decongestant to 10% saline for the first week reducing to an 80% decongestant to 20% saline mix the following week and so on until no decongestant is used. This method is all about trial and error and each individual needs to adjust the mix to suit themselves.

Salt solution (saline) nasal sprays - Saline nasal sprays such as Sterimar may be useful for moisturising the nasal passages and relieving nasal congestion. However they are best used to dilute the decongestant nasal spray (as mentioned earlier).

Natural anti-inflammatory supplements and herbs - The prime cause of nasal spray addiction is swelling of the nasal passages. Therefore reducing this inflammation would be extremely beneficial in relieving the symptoms. Turmeric, ginger, omega 3, 6 & 9 oils, vitamin C etc. are all excellent natural anti-inflammatories and can all be taken together (seek advice form your local healthfood store). These work well in conjunction with the other treatments previously mentioned.


Nasal spray addiction can be cured, it is just a matter of having an open mind and trying new treatments. These alternatives do work. I hope this will be of help to the millions of sufferers out there. It is always advisable not to carry out new treatments until you have


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