Inspired by one of our favorite television shows, Allergy Myth Busters looks at a number of popularly held beliefs about allergy. But are these myths just urban legends or are they true?

The Myth: Nasal sprays are addictive

The Science:
When beginning to take nasal sprays, many patients wonder if they should be concerned about getting addicted to the nasal spray. What they are likely referring to is a rebound effect that may occur from using over the counter nasal decongestant sprays. After using a nasal decongestant spray for several days, you may become less responsive to the decongestant effect, and as a result, you may need more and more of the medication to control nasal congestion.
Nasal congestion may also worsen in the short term when the medication is stopped. Some people mistake this effect for addiction, but it is not. The way to avoid this effect is to use nasal decongestant sprays for less than 5 days at a time, or to use other classes of nasal sprays, like nasal steroid sprays, nasal antihistamines, or nasal saline.

Nasal steroid sprays, both prescription and over the counter, and prescription nasal antihistamine sprays may be safely used daily without risk of rebounds.

When treating allergies, it is always best to consult your trusted Allergy Partners allergist to determine what medication regimen is best for your individual situation.

The Verdict: The myth that nasal sprays are addictive is BUSTED! However, using over the counter decongestant nasal sprays for more than 5 days at a time can cause significant rebound congestion. Be cautious in using these medications and consult your Allergy Partners physician about what allergy treatments are best for you.



Marshall Wise, M.D.
Allergy Partners of Boone County