Monday, February 15, 2010

Breathe In...Breathe Out

I tried so many times to quit...but the discomfort was more than I could bare. Waking up in the middle of the night, feeling as if I was suffocating became the nightly routine. Embarrassed, I would rush off to bathrooms... any place private where I could get just one more squirt and find a little relief. I’d go somewhere and if it wasn’t in my purse or pocket, I would panic. When I had my knee surgery last month...all I could think of was..."what if it wears off while I am asleep!"I felt trapped.

As embarrassing as it is for me to share, if I can prevent one person from getting hooked...then it is worth the embarrassment.
I had a very big problem. I had a dependency. The official medical term for this condition is Rhinitis Medicamentosa...also known as Rebound Rhinitis . Simply put...I had become severely dependent to Over The Counter Nasal Spray. I started using it to relieve the symptoms of a cold and allergies....and I ended up chained to that little bottle and a lot of misery.

Last Wednesday I took the first step and saw an allergist. I was there for more than three hours. I was actually somewhat shocked when the Doctor asked right off the bat how long I had been using the nose spray. Especially since I had never even mentioned it. You see, those of us who are hooked on OTC nasal spray usually do not mention it at all. When asked about the general we leave that off the list...because after all..."you can get it Over The Counter" I said " well, a really long time" He told me to go ahead and tell him how long...and promised me that he would not be shocked at all. With a really stuffed up nose, and a lump in my throat I answered "18 years".

Today I am on day 5 of what my doctor calls the 4-7 day period of misery. I was tested for allergies, and found that I have many...mostly Cats and Molds. I was given a steroid shot, put on oral Prednisone and two steroid allergy sprays. Even with the medications, it has been a very uncomfortable has taken every ounce of strength that I have to not just give in and grab that little $2.30 bottle of instant relief...especially at night. I haven't slept much in the last 5 throat is dry from all the mouth breathing, my lips are cracked and I have even had a few panic attacks...there is nothing worse than waking up and feeling like you cannot breath. But, I haven't used the stuff and I am improving a little more each day.

Please be VERY careful about using over the counter decongestant-type nose sprays. They are effective (perhaps too effective) if you follow the directions. Please follow the directions! Do Not Use For More Than Three Days! The nasal membranes will acclimate, become obstructed by swelling to a point where you cannot breathe unless you use the spray...and use it often. If you have severe congestion, and it continues to be bothersome, don't spray more...consult a physician.


  1. My mom is addicted to them also. She is constantly putting that up her nose.

  2. It's horrible Lee. I was afraid to ask for help because it is so uncomfortable.
    I went around the house this weekend and threw away bottles...they were stashed everywhere..because I never wanted to be stuck without it. I am over the worst part now...I will never touch that stuff again!

    I can't blame the clearly says on the bottle..."Do Not Use More Than Three Days" But when you have an underlying sinus problem and find something that gives instant wonderful relief. Then before you know have to use more and more.

    My doctor told me that Millions of people are addicted to Over The Counter Nasal Decongestants...some of them for over 40 years.

  3. I became addicted to OTC nasal sprays in my early twenties for about 18 months, and yes - giving them up was one of the hardest things I ever did. To this day I will not use them, even with the terrible sinus problems that plague me up here in Ohio every winter.

    I know you're suffering, but you will be SO glad you stopped when it's all said and done!


  4. Hey Jan,

    I'm doing a whole lot better. I still stuff up but it is finally to a point where I can cope. The prednisone got me through it. He gave me two nose sprays to use morning and night....I raised my eyebrows at him...he said "no's not the same kind of stuff." And told me to use saline spray freely. I never really got the point of saline spray because of course it didn't do what the OTC spray did. But now I totally helps tremendously! Today I went for allergy shots...hopefully I can keep all this mess at bay.

    Thanks Jan :)

  5. Keep up with the allergy shots! Damon is so inconsistent with his - and now doesn't get them at all! The relief they will give you is miraculous! I'm praying for you Aunt Monica! I know you are probably much better now though - but yikes!

  6. Hey Carrie,

    Yeah coming off that stuff is one of the worst things I have ever been through. Even worse than quitting smoking. It's pretty much my own fault...I should have mentioned it to a doctor years ago but I was afraid to. I knew I would have to suffer through it. But I am doing much much better now.