With warm weather comes pollen, and that means seasonal allergies for a lot of people. Nasal sprays are an effective way to treat the symptoms, but over reliance can actually make you feel worse in the long run.
Decongesting nasal sprays work by shrinking inflamed blood vessels in the nasal passages, thus unclogging your sinuses so more air can flow through. But, as Dr. Madeleine Schaberg of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai explains to Women’s Health, frequent use of nasal sprays cause more problems than they resolve. After a few days of continual use, those blood vessels develop a slight addiction and come to rely on the drug, which causes them to swell beyond their normal size when they don’t get that next hit. This causes your congestion to rebound and get even worse, or what’s known as rhinitis medicamentosa. The more you rely on the spray, the worse it can get over time.
But don’t fret, it’s pretty easy to avoid rebound congestion. Schaberg says that nasal spray can still be used sparingly, but you should included other decongestants in your anti-allergy arsenal. Nasal saline rinses, neti pot flushes, and antihistamines can be thrown into the mix. You can also try a non-addictive, over-the-counter steroid nasal spray. And if your allergies are severe, talk to your doctor about prescribing an oral steroid to help decrease the inflammation in your nose.