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You Can't Spray Away Chronic Nasal Congestion

If you suffer from chronic nasal congestion, you may be wondering if continually using nasal sprays is actually making things worse. The answer is, "yes."

According to Robert del Junco, MD, medical director of the Nasal & Sinus Center at St. Joseph Hospital, over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays can shrink swollen tissues in seconds, leading some people to use them whenever they become congested. However, after three or four days of continuous use, nasal decongestant sprays actually cause the nasal linings to swell up again, even when a cold or allergy attack has passed. The medical term for this reaction is rhinitis medicamentosa, or rebound rhinitis.

"A typical response to rebound rhinitis is to use more spray for an increasingly short-lived decongestant effect," says Dr. del Junco. "But the more frequent the use, the more profound the rebound. For this reason, decongestant drops and nasal sprays should not be used for more than three consecutive days."

Effective treatment for chronic sinusitis includes prescription medications, laser treatments, and surgery to alleviate the problem. Remember, if you suffer from chronic nasal congestion, you can't spray it away.

For more information about Dr. del Junco or the Nasal & Sinus Center at St. Joseph Hospital, visit www.sjo.org/nasalsinus.

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