Addiction to decongestants: Causes, treatment and prevention strategies

Vasoconstrictive drops such as Naftisin, Tizin, Snoop and others are used as a symptomatic treatment for runny nose. 1-2 doses over several hours can reduce the swelling of the mucous membranes and significantly slow the production of mucus, thereby relieving the symptoms of rhinitis.

However, decongestants are not curative and prolonged and uncontrolled use can lead to addiction. Over time, the mucous membranes stop working properly and, without another ‘dose’, the vessels stop constricting on their own. As a result, the mucosa swells again and a new injection of the vasoconstrictive component is required to remove the blockage.

Addiction to nasal drops: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention Strategies

People who rely on decongestants may be diagnosed with medicated rhinitis. This is a chronic inflammatory disease of the nasal mucosa. The danger is that as you use the drops, your sensitivity to them decreases and then disappears completely.

There is a “vicious circle” in which more and more drops are needed to relieve nasal congestion, and the more the medication is used, the more the mucosa suffers, which in turn leads to even greater breathing difficulties.

In addition to nasal breathing difficulties, the symptoms of drug-induced rhinitis include: headache, impaired sense of smell, sleep disturbance, irritability, increased blood pressure, increased pulse rate, tachycardia.

Duration of use of vasoconstrictor drops

The duration of use of vasoconstrictor drops should not exceed 5-7 days. If the congestion does not disappear, it is necessary to consult an otorhinolaryngologist. Prolonged use of vasoconstrictor drops may lead to irreversible changes in the lower nasal cavities, in which case only surgical treatment will help to restore nasal breathing.

Prolonged difficulty in nasal breathing leads to a state of chronic hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and adversely affects the cardiovascular and nervous systems.

The drops themselves have a systemic effect on the whole body. For this reason, people suffering from cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and people with an overactive thyroid gland should use drops and sprays for short periods of time.

At the beginning of the treatment of “drop addiction”, you can choose preparations containing sea water. For example, in an isotonic solution, the concentration of salt is close to the concentration in the liquid media of the body, so it helps to normalise the ionic balance of the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity, the violation of which is accompanied by its swelling.

Hypertonic saline solution contains a higher concentration of salt, which contributes to the intensive movement of water in the direction of an increased concentration of ions, thus having an anti-edema effect. As an irritant to the nasal mucosa, hypertonic saline stimulates glandular secretion without altering vascular permeability. All this is true of seawater.

Incidentally, there is an opinion that it is as difficult to stop using vasoconstrictive drops as it is to stop smoking.

Prepared by Mary Clair

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