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How to Break a Nasal Spray Addiction

Quitting nasal spray cold turkey or quitting nasal spray one nostril time

Quitting nasal spray cold turkey or quitting nasal spray one nostril time

Nasal Spray: Too Good to Be Healthy

The winter of 2011 was a rough one for me. My little girl started going to daycare for the first time in her three years of living, and you can guess what happened. That's right...she contracted illness after illness after illness. I can say with confidence that she was sick for pretty much three months straight. And when my daughter gets sick, it's a domino effect. I get sick, and then my husband will sometimes get sick, as well.

In the midst of having a stuffed-up nose and literally feeling as if I was suffocating, I found the miraculous nasal spray on the pharmacy shelf. A couple of squirts up each nostril, and WHAM—I was able to breathe fully in a matter of a couple of minutes. I thought to myself, oh sweet nasal spray, where have you been all my life?

Little did I know that this breath-giving substance has an uncanny ability to hook you to it—to actually create an addiction. My husband even said to me, "Babe, you know that stuff creates an addiction." And I disagreed. No way something as simple as nasal spray could keep someone like myself craving it on a daily basis.

Alas, the truth sometimes hurts...especially when I do not want to admit it. After three days of using this majestic product that kept my nasal passages free and clear of any undesired phlegm, I started thinking that what my husband was telling me might have some truth to it. I think maybe I didn't care too much, though; as long as I could breathe out of my nose, I was going to be happy.

Oh, how the tide can change. Seven days went by after the initial nasal spray usage, and my nose started plugging up again, or so it seemed. I became very frustrated and began using my little white bottle of nasal hope more than once a day. The unclogging effect seemed to be wearing off—my nasal passages could not breathe freely—I realized that my body had literally become addicted to whatever ingredients were within the nasal spray that I had been using for a week.

Like an idiot, I decided to read the back of the nasal spray bottle just to see if it had any warnings or side effects. Towards the bottom of the small printed label, it read, "Do not use more than three days in a row. You may develop a habit." Seriously? I always read the little novels that accompany each antibiotic that I've ever had; why didn't I choose to read this label before I started using this "miracle" nasal funk? Why didn't I listen to my husband?

Though not breathing through one's nose doesn't seem like that dramatic of a circumstance, for me, I felt like I was losing my mind. I have never been a mouth-breather; I've always breathed through my nose. If I can't breathe through my nose, I feel claustrophobic in a way. So this was a big deal to me, especially because I realized that my nasal passages were so used to acquiring this "fix" for the past seven days that they were literally closing without it. There was no sickness left in my system, just an addiction to a pharmaceutical ingredient. So, how to beat this stupid addiction? Well, there are a few ways to beat this thing.

Ways to Break the Habit

1. Cold Turkey

If you are hardcore like me, the best option for you to break this medical addiction is to go full-on cold turkey. What do we mean when we say "cold turkey"? We mean to just plain stop what you are doing that causes the addiction. Stop using the substance that is causing your this case - nasal spray. Yes, there are negatives to the cold turkey method. The biggest negative is that your nose will continue to feel closed, and you will not be able to breathe through it for at least a couple of days. In severe cases in which people have used nasal spray for a matter of years, the feeling of nasal clogging will probably last for at least a couple of weeks. Your body has to readjust itself to not having that chemical in order to open the pathways to the respiratory system. You may feel miserable and have a tantalizing desire to just pick up the bottle (pun intended), but fight it! If you have quit smoking or some other addiction in the past cold turkey, you can quit this thing the same exact way! You are strong, so don't let something as simple as an inanimate bottle of nose lube keep you down.

2. Simply Saline

Instead of going cold turkey and suffering the wrath of nasal spray withdrawal, try out a bottle of Simply Saline. I believe you can purchase a bottle for under eight dollars at your local pharmacy. Walgreen's, Rite Aid, and CVS Pharmacy all carry this product. Simply Saline is made up of water and .9% sodium chloride. The main purpose of Simply Saline is to moisturize the nasal passages and clear any unwanted debris from the nose (including pollen particles). This product is recommended for people with dry nasal passages due to colds, sinus infections and allergies. It works remarkably well in the process of easing one off of a nasal spray addiction. Clearing the nasal passages of excess mucus will aid one in feeling as if they are able to breathe again; though, let me tell you ahead of time that this blissful feeling does not last that long. Maybe a couple of hours at most. But a great positive attribute to this stuff is that it is so natural and non-habit forming that you can use it as much as you need to throughout the day. This product will surely aid in weening oneself off of the deathly grip of nasal spray.

3. One at a Time

The last method of nasal spray rehab I will recommend is to break the addiction, one nasal pathway at a time. The process here includes going cold turkey in, say, your right nostril and letting the left nostril still bask in the glory of nasal spray clarity. After a couple of days, the right nostril should start to clear up and breathe normally on its own, and this is when you strike with rehab on the remaining addicted left nostril. Give it a week or so, and I guarantee you will have gently let down both nostrils from their chemical addiction. Shame on you, you stupid, weak nose, for getting addicted to something so trivial in the first place!

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Robb Schmidt on January 28, 2018:

Wow what a great article. I too was addicted to nose sprays, hopelessly I thought! I couldn't imagine trying to go cold turkey, especially not being able to breathe at night. Thankfully I found an easy manual that describes how to quit without discomfort online. It's done through cessation and slowly replacing the ingredients in the bottle. If anyone reading this is interested, I found it at It was super easy and saved my life. Well, at least my nose's life! Best of luck to anyone out there quitting. Trust me, you feel so much better after putting the nose bottle behind you :)

glutathionepath on October 16, 2014:

Have you looked into any anti-mucolytic supplements like NAC? Might provide some relief without the sprays.

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Read More From Healthproadvice

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on October 24, 2012:

umarfarooq - Read the hub, it gives a couple different ways.

umarfarooq on October 24, 2012:


my English is weak so plz understand my problem

my problem is that..?

i had an accident so my nose bone is fracture now 4,5 hour later i have use must nasal sup-ray otherwise my brain is not normal for me i filed angry then i used ZINOSEEN NASAL SPRAY and then after few minutes i m feeling better or normal

so ans me what can i do for this problem......?

Anna on April 26, 2012:

Very informative article!

I'm 25 years old, A month ago, I had some kind of a virus for almost a week, and my nose didn't stop to leak! So the only thing that was helpful and opened my nose was a nasal spray (otrivin). I used it for more then a week, sometimes twice a day, although I knew that it is not healthy to use it for more than 3 days. Since then my nose is stuffed up especially in the night when i'm lying down to sleep. I just can't fall asleep without this nasal spray!! I usually have such a great smelling sense and my nose is widely open! But now I can't breath widely and most of the time breath with my mouth open.. :(

This is so frustrating! At first I started to think that it might be a sudden allergy in the middle of my life, maybe because of the spring, and the blooming (I've never had allergies for that), But then I have noticed that I depend on this nasal spray and can't sleep without it. So I started to do some digging on the net, and found out that this could be a real nasal spray addiction. Today is the first day that i'm going to try to sleep without the spray (before that, the little bottle was standing next to my bed) ...Hope it would go away in a few days..Greetings from Israel :)

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on April 09, 2012:

paxwill - thanks for pointing that out. I guess it's a matter of opinion, but I feel that any type of medicine that your body grows dependent on can be considered an addiction in some form. Thanks for reading & sharing.

darren on February 21, 2012:

i just came across this post. I think my sinusitis has gone but i've been using the nasal spray for 7 days now i think i'm addicted. I'm going to try the one nostril at a time i don't think i could stop cold turkey on both nostrils. This is so strange for me i never thought i could get addicted to such a thing, but i just can't sleep without it

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on April 19, 2011:

hi, jane! i never would've known if i hadn't had the experience that i did...and it's very weird because your body almost tells you it's addicted...your nasal passages aren't even congested...they just feel like they're closing up! thanks for stopping by!

Jane Bovary from The Fatal Shore on April 19, 2011:

I never thought of being addicted to something like this either. Very illuminating!

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on April 10, 2011:

hello, again jeannieinabottle! here's the thing, i believe if the nasal spray your doctor has you taking is a prescription nasal spray for allergies in specific, it may not be the same kind. the kind of nasal spray i'm referring to is the kind that you can pick up in the store, specifically to clear up a stuffy nose due to colds or the flu. check with your doctor if you are concerned, though. thanks for stopping by. always good to hear from ya. :)

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on April 10, 2011:

Wow! I really did not know you could addicted to over the counter nasal spray either. This is really good to know. My doctor has me on nasal spray, but honestly, I never use it like I should. I usually forget to take it. I am glad now. Thanks for the information!

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