Decongestant Addiction (Rhinitis Medicamentosa)
Tapering Instructions

Decongestant sprays are useful medicines in treating acute symptoms of sinusitis and nasal allergy. Over the counter sprays such as Neosynephrine, Afrin, 4way, Sinoff, Equate, Otrivin and others have decongestant medicine in them. Continued use can create a problem known as Rhinitis medicamentosa. In this type of sniffling stopped up nose problem, the medicine creates an addiction in the tissue in the nose. When the spray use is discontinued, the nasal tissue has a rebound inflammatory swelling and causes recurrent obstruction. The cure for this nasal inflammatory condition requires discontinuing the decongestant spray. The best method of accomplishing this is covered in the following instructions.


Begin any other medications your doctor has prescribed and continue them through this process as directed.

Choose the side of your nose that is always the most open and discontinue the decongestant spray on the opposite side first.

Continue the decongestant spray in the more open nostril for the next several days.

After 5 - 10 days discontinue the decongestant medicine on the more open side as well.

Continue any topical nasal steroid or antihistamine spray as directed by your doctor for the next several weeks before attempting to do without it as well. Remember, nasal steroid medicines do not work immediately like the decongestants and require a long period of use to decrease the inflammatory effects in the nose.

Dr. Love is Certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and has special training in Facial Plastic Surgery , Laser Surgery in the Face and Head and Neck, and Adult and Pediatric Otolaryngology and Nasal and Sinus Allergy. His practice is in Montgomery, Alabama.
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