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Nasal Spray Side Effects

Nasal Spray Side Effects

Nasal sprays provide instant relief to the nasal passages, which makes them a very tempting tool that provides instant relief. However, this relief comes with its share of side effects, some as serious as addiction to the spray. Here is more on the side effects of nasal sprays.
Rahul Thadani
Last Updated: May 10, 2018
A blocked or stuffy nose can disturb an individual's routine and life in more than one way. Sleepless nights that are caused due to uncomfortable breathing patterns adds to the misery of a cold infection. Nasal mists, more popularly known as nasal sprays, are the most sought-after tool for relieving a nasal congestion. A nasal spray is used for the local or systematic administration of drugs into the body through the nasal tract.

There are many of these that are commonly available in any drug or health store across the country. The most common occasion in which this spray is used is during a common cold, in order to relieve congestion and stuffiness in the nose.

How Nasal Sprays Work
When a nasal spray is administered to a swollen nasal passage, it constricts or narrows the blood vessels in the lining of the nose. This constriction enables the swelling in the tissues to diminish, which results in easy and relaxed breathing.

➠ Nasal sprays provide instant relief. They work like magic, clearing congested nasal passages. They are also easily available. Hence, most people opt for these sprays, almost at every instance of a blocked nose. The good effect stays for a limited period of time. But after the effect of this spray wears down, the blood vessels expand again, bringing back the congested nose condition and problems while breathing.

➠ As a result, most people end up using nasal sprays repeatedly to ease their breathing. In most cases, nasal sprays do not cure the root cause, that is, the disease or infection. They only help relieve one of the symptoms for some time, that is a blocked nose. These sprays are an effective means to combat cold symptoms, but an overuse can cause many side effects.

➠ A nasal spray is advised to be used for a maximum of 2 to 3 days. If you use this consistently for many days, chances are the side effects will start showing. They may not be very serious or intense, but the excessive use of these sprays can cause some unexpected complications in the future.

Side Effects of Nasal Sprays
No matter how effective they may seem, at the end of the day, nasal sprays are steroids. And like all steroids, these too have some serious side effects. Relying too much on nasal sprays to ease congestion, in reality actually worsens the congestion. These side effects will vary from person to person. The individuals immune system, genetic makeup, degree of infection, and also the amount of spray that has been administered, plays a part in the severity of the side effects.

➠ A stinging or burning sensation
➠ Increased risk for sinus infection
➠ Headaches
➠ Dry nasal passages, nostrils, and altered taste
➠ Burning sensation in the nose
➠ Excessive swelling and congestion of the nasal passage
➠ Sneezing and extreme amounts of nasal discharge
➠ Excessive coughing
➠ Excessive watering of eyes
➠ Increased appetite

These were some of the mild side effects, due to excessive use of nasal sprays. Here are the serious side effects that are also possible.

➠ Rapid and pounding heartbeat
➠ Extreme weakness and fatigue
➠ Sores in the nasal passage
➠ Dizziness and trouble falling asleep or disturbed sleep
➠ Trembling hands and arms
➠ Hallucinations and blurred vision
➠ Redness of the eyes
➠ Nausea and vomiting
➠ Nervousness, depression, and discomfort
➠ Fungal infection in the nose or the throat
➠ Severe nosebleeds
➠ Unexplained fever and chills
➠ Face, tongue or lips swelling
➠ Increased thirst and urination, or difficulty in urination
➠ Trouble breathing, slow breathing, and persistent headache
➠ Mild or severe breakout of acne
➠ Nasal blisters or ulcers
➠ Painful menstruation
➠ Severe allergic reaction
➠ Post-nasal Drip (PND)

As mentioned earlier, a nasal spray should not be used for more than 3 days in a row. Exceptions can be made in rare cases when it is prescribed by a doctor, to continue use for longer duration. A prolonged use of nasal sprays will leave your nose feeling congested always. A similar condition is discussed below.

Rebound Rhinitis
As you can see, these are a lot of side effects that you are exposing yourself to if you regularly use nasal sprays. One of the commonest side effect is a condition known as 'rebound rhinitis'. This is a condition that develops if there is excessive use of nasal spray at a stretch. Due to this, the nasal tract develops an addictive habit to the effects of these sprays. So much so, that upon putting a halt to the use, the nasal passages immediately get blocked. This 'addiction' leads to the culmination of other excessive side effects. With long term use, the small arteries start shrinking, which many lead to scarring inside the nasal passage.

Therefore, as far as possible, avoid the overuse of nasal sprays. Remember, the problem is not with the product. The problem arises when you overuse the product. It is also important to understand that there are many brands of nasal sprays, so the side effects may differ. Not all nasal sprays will cause similar side effects.

Know Your Alternatives
It is recommended to avoid the use of nasal sprays to avoid the side effects. The good news is, there are few other effective remedies as alternatives to nasal sprays. Here are some options for you.

Try using alternative treatment options like homeopathic medicines.

Inhaling steam or sitting in a steam-filled room like a steam bath will also help ease congestion.

Instead of using traditional nasal sprays use saline nasal drops.

Make sure the room has enough moisture. Use a humidifier if required.

Practice breathing exercises and nasal irrigation.

Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise regularly and stay well hydrated.

One can also keep the head elevated while sleeping, with a pillow. This will keep the nose from getting congested to a certain extent.

Use oral drugs for decongestion, which are prescribed by a medical expert.

Nasal sprays may seem very tempting and alluring in their advertisements and promotions, and the instant relief they provide is extremely soothing. Just because they are capable of providing this instant relief, people tend to overuse them. As a result, they suffer from addiction, rebound rhinitis in particular, and find it hard to stop its usage. Prevention is better than cure, hence, it is best to avoid using these sprays. However, in extreme cases, with proper medical guidance and patience, it is possible to get rid of the dependence on nasal sprays.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.