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Can You Overcome an Afrin Addiction?

One reader reports that spicy green chile salsa would open up the sinuses enough to help break an Afrin addiction. Others have used steroid nasal sprays or even saline spray to accomplish this goal.
Man uses a nasal spray for treatment

Have you ever become addicted to your nasal spray? Millions of people do. Decongestant nasal sprays can be used safely for only a few days before they start to produce rebound congestion that can be quite uncomfortable. No wonder so many folks end up with an Afrin addiction, though any decongestant nasal spray can cause this problem. One reader found an unusual method to break the habit.

What Can You Do about Your Afrin Addiction?

Q. I got addicted to Afrin nasal spray. I couldn’t go any longer than 15 minutes without it.

It was a painful process to break the habit, but this worked for me. I would apply a hot compress to my sinuses (and cry because it hurt so much.) Then I would eat really hot green chile salsa, which would open up my sinuses. (I found this would also work if I was just starting to get a sinus infection.)

It helped to go for a run to get the sinuses open after eating the salsa. If I get a little stuffed up now, out comes the green chile. I have read that green chile has medicinal properties. Maybe this will help someone else break an Afrin addiction.

Overcoming Your Nasal Spray Addiction:

A. When people use strong vasoconstricting nasal decongestants for more than a few days, the nose adapts. Stopping the spray can trigger rebound nasal congestion, which may lead to a vicious cycle of nasal spray overuse.

Your strategy is intriguing. Others have found that gradually diluting the spray with saline solution can help.

Steroid Nasal Spray to the Rescue:

Some people also use steroid nasal sprays (Flonase, Nasacort, Rhinocort) to overcome nose spray dependency. Here is what another reader did.

Q. I have been using Afrin Nasal Decongestant Spray for two decades. My mom started me on it when I was a kid with bad allergies and then I couldn’t stop. I hated that nose spray addiction.

I finally got off Afrin by using Flonase and diluting the last bottle of Afrin with saline. It took about a week, and though I am still a little stuffy, I am so glad to be off the decongestant. I just thought others might benefit from my experience.

A. Thank you for sharing your success. Flonase is a corticosteroid nasal spray (fluticasone) that has recently become available over the counter. It can be helpful during the process of weaning off a nose spray addiction. It is also useful in controlling nasal allergy symptoms.

Side Effects of Steroid Sprays:

Side effects of Flonase may include headache, nosebleeds, nausea, cough and oral yeast infections. With long-term use, some people become more susceptible to cataracts or glaucoma.

To avoid getting into trouble with nasal spray, some people with allergies might want to try natural approaches:

Marie shared another way to avoid an Afrin addiction:

“Afrin is great when used only for occasional stuffiness. I never spray it in both nostrils; I alternate. Even with the worst cold, breathing through one clear nostril is fine. If you alternate nostrils you don’t have to worry about rebound congestion.”

2/25/19 redirected to: https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2019/02/25/how-to-beat-nose-spray-dependence-one-nostril-at-a-time/

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Several folks have mentioned that by diluting afrin-type sprays with saline rinse what mix are you using and that is the time frame before you can expect to obtain breathing relief. Also, most of these bottles are one unit where are you finding a pump spray with the right mist spray that will work without getting too much. Any helpful information can be sent to bfpach@hotmail.com thank you in advance.


I was so addicted to it I had to sleep sitting up in a chair for a tiny bit of air. I swore I would never use it again. Then I discovered that if I put a tiny bit on a Q-tip and swab my sinuses open enough to get through the night. This won’t totally clear the sinuses, but it will help you breathe.

I found Sinu-Orega nasal spray by NAHS. It is an aromatic spice formula (P73). http://www.organol.com to be my choice to never again be addicted. I use this because I use the machine for sleep apnea.

I was horribly addicted to Afrin in the early 70’s. I took 3 steroid shots a few weeks apart and got back to normal immediately. I don’t think I ever bought it again after the first shot.

Of course the shots hurt like hell and they contribute to cataracts. I couldn’t even breathe through my nostrils without an Afrin hit every 15 minutes. And then the tissues would swell up again and then another hit and . . . I couldn’t even sleep. I was very grateful for those shots. Back then Afrin was Rx only.

Ayr nasal spray or similar SALINE ONLY (distilled water and salt) spray works fine to lubricate nasal passages. I also use NeilMed sinus wash several times a week to completely clear out sinus passages. I tossed out steroid sprays in favor of NasalCrom spray which I use judiciously and not the several times per day as instructions say.

I used Afrin for a few days and got completely stopped up. Took some contizone pills that cleared it. Now I use daily sinus rinse and Flonase. A prescription, Montelukast, seems to help control allergies. This combo works for me.


For many years I’ve been an on and off user of Afrin or similar (oxymetazolineHCL) to relieve congestion. Because of the addiction to it and the rebound effect I got off it years ago by getting a steroid spray (was not over the counter then). So, I’ve tried many other treatments like Flonase, Nasocort, and others. Around 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening is when the symptom of stuffiness appears in my right nostril. By lying my head to the left it moves to the left. Sitting up straight again, it moves to the right. I’ve been told I do not have a deviated septum, but allergy problems. Nothing seems to work. I’m not convinced it related to allergies since it happens all year long. It seems related to “evening pressure” if there is such a thing. Is there a cure for that? I’d love to sleep through the night wide open.

I have the same problem! I’ve had it for years: stuffy nose, wake up with sinus headache. When I lie down the “lower” nostril stops up, when I change sides, it moves. Also, when sitting up, my right nostril is usually the one that’s a problem. Any suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated.

No need for nasal sprays for allergies. I had allergic rhinitis for years using pills and sprays.
Now all I have to do a few times a day is massage both sides of my nose 50 times then pinch the bridge of nose tightly at the very top for one minute. Job done, and it works.

I had a full blown addiction to nasal spray before it was commonly known that it could happen. I sprayed one nostril only until the other cleared, and then stopped. As others have mentioned here, one nostril free breathing is tolerable. It took 5-7 days for each to clear.

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