Confessions of a reformed Afrin addict

Yes, I used to be *addicted* to Afrin. I had no less than 3 bottles of Afrin, or various products, in different places in the house. One in a purse, one in the medicine cabinet, one in a drawer next to my bed. I have always seemed to have some sort of congestion throughout my life, be it allergies or a cold and so often turned to the over-the-counter congestion sprays for help. During pregnancy, I had even WORSE congestion but the use of the OTC drugs were frowned upon. So I pretty much went cold turkey and quit.

I never really knew of the addictive qualities of Afrin until I recently did a little research…

Did you know that if you use decongestant nasal sprays for more than 3 consecutive days you actually CAUSE more congestion? When you use the spray, you get instant relief, which is the psychological reason why they are so darn addictive. The physiological reason that they are addictive is because use of decongestant nasal sprays cause rhinitis medicamentosa, or “rebound congestion”. And round and round the vicious circle we go.

I am at the tail end of a sinus infection that has knocked me out this past week. I visited my doctor and expected the regular course of treatment- Zithromax. NOW I have come to learn that antibiotics do not help sinus infections, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association in December 2007 (read the abstract for yourself here). Unbelievable! The things that we thought were making us well really weren’t helping us and were in fact adding to the overuse of antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics is linked to antibiotic-resistant super-bugs, like MRSA. has a great article explaining the findings in lay terms, Zithromax, Amoxicillin, Other Antibiotics Don’t Help with Sinus Infections.

So what’s a girl to do? Not to mention that I am nursing my 4 month old baby and have to be mindful of what I put into my body! It seems like every decongestant type medication wasn’t that great for nursing mothers, as the medication either was secreted into breastmilk or could reduce one’s supply.

I had to stick with homeopathic remedies. The following is a list of things that have helped me and that I highly recommend:

1- Sinucleanse– a nasal wash that irrigates your sinuses. It saved me during pregnancy and it is helping a lot now.

2- Hot water with Lemon & Honey

3- Warm air humidifier

4-Lots of fluids

5- Sleep

Well, I sure hope none of you get sick and have to use any of these!


10 responses to “Confessions of a reformed Afrin addict

  1. This was a very informative post. Thanks!

  2. Glad you kicked that habit! Didn’t know that about sinus infections… will have to read later. I tried a neti pot (sinus rinse), but found it usually caused a sinus infection…pushed all the gunk back in the holes in my head. But the NeilMed sinus rinse works better (don’t have to tip my head over to use it). This helps too, for respiratory infections anyhow… hot steamy pot of water w/ mint, maybe eucalyptus, and a towel over your head. And there are some acupressure points on your face that help sinus congestion. Also some on your chest for the lungs. And something on your feet (sounds so hoaky, but working these in a steamy shower seems to help).

  3. I tried a neti pot before and it did seem to help.

  4. I agree with Beth, that was a super informative post! I hadn’t heard that about the antibiotics not helping sinus infections. My allergist used to swab inside my nostril, and if there were white blood cells on the slide, I got a week of augmentin. Yuck. Who knew?

    I also second the NielMed Sinus Rinse recommendation. Works great and even seems to help me when my ears are clogged from sinus issues.

  5. Oh–and I hope you feel better soon!

  6. Yeah, I have found many of my clients over time got hooked on the nasal decongestants. They work TOO well. But the Neilmed Sinus Rinse is great. I use it myself when I feel the whole pressure thing happening.

  7. Yes, it’s sad but true. I’m getting over the flu and have been drinking lots of tea, and the water/honey/lemon. Just gotta fight it!

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