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Do you find that you need more and more nasal spray to achieve the same effect? Have you been (mis)using Afrin or similar nasal decogestants for years?

Are nasal sprays like Afrin right up there with gambling, alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes? Of course not — even if you overuse nasal sprays for a very long time, the consequences will not be anywhere near as serious. 

Yet, some people confess that they are or have been addicted to nasal decongestants. What's up with that? Can you really be addicted to nasal sprays? And what happens if you use Afrin way too much?

What Is Afrin Nasal Spray?

Afrin is a popular brand of nasal spray, produced by the Bayer group. Nothing, according to Afrin itself, relieves nasal congestion better. First offered only as a prescription medication, Afrin became available as an over-the-counter product in 1975. Since then, the nasal spray has starred in numerous advertising campaigns, bringing awareness of the products to consumers all over the US. Original, Pump Mist, Sinus and Severe Congestion are among its products, which use Oxymetazoline as an active ingredient and work by shinking the blood vesses in the nasal passagers. 

These sprays will help unblock your nose when you suffer from allergy-induced nasal congestion or have a cold. 

Though Afrin has a market share of about 30 percent now, other similar products include Dristan, Sinex and Neo-synephrine. All together, the nasal spray market is worth a whopping $210 million a year. It's not hard to see why, really: nasal decongestion may not be a serious ailment, but it sure does mess with people's daily functioning, and can keep them up at night. When you have a blocked nose, you want it to be gone as soon as reasonably possible, and nasal sprays like Afrin can lend a helping hand. Do you get more than you bargained for when you use a nasal spray, though?

Nasal Spray Addiction: Are You For Real?

SteadyHealth users themselves have told us:

  • "Ive reached a point where I can't be without it anymore."
  • "I could not survive without it. If I did not use enough of it before I went to sleep, I would have dreams of being buried alive."
  • "I too was addicted to Afrin for 17 years. It was horrible. Everywhere I went, I was constantly using it."
True addiction, we have to remember, is often defined as a compulsive need to use a substance or engage in an activity known to be habit-forming. Such a substance really needs to be physically, emotionally or socially detrimental for a habit of using it to be considered an actual addiction: we can't really say that we are addicted to quinoa, kale, or yoga, though we may certainly be obsessed with all of these things. 
Afrin and other nasal sprays don't really qualify, though using Afrin for 17 years straight certainly sounds like a bad idea, and a grand total of seven percent of the US population was found to over-rely on nasal sprays. 
Why do people say they are addicted to nasal sprays if that can't really happen? Well, it's true that nasal sprays become less effective after you have been using them for a while. As with cocain and other illegal street drugs, you need more and more of the stuff for it to still be effective. What's more, people who have been using nasal sprays for a while (or longer than a while) may find that they get horrible congestion if they suddenly stop using the product. They can develop rhinitis medicamentosa, a form of nasal congestion triggered by over-the-counter nasal decongestants themselves. This is sometimes referred to as "rebound congestion".
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