When You Use A Nasal Spray Every Day, This Is What Happens To Your Body

If you are congested, a nasal spray can be a useful tool to ease the stuffy feeling. But they're intended for short-term use, and getting into the habit of using one every day can have some negative effects. It's a common occurrence, however. One study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that of nearly 900 people surveyed, half of them used their nasal spray more than prescribed.

Over-the-counter nasal sprays are only made to be used for three days, according to Healthline. Using them for longer can lead to a condition called rhinitis medicamentosa, or rebound congestion. This is simply congestion that is the result of medication rather than an irritant or virus.

Nasal sprays work by reducing inflammation of blood vessels that cause congestion. Taking them for longer than the prescribed three days leads to a tolerance which requires larger dosages to address the inflammation. This is not considered addiction, but rather dependence on the drug used in the nasal spray.

Time is the ultimate treatment

You'll know you have rebound congestion if you have nasal congestion that doesn't clear up, even with the use of nasal spray, and absent other symptoms of allergies (via WebMD). The only way to clear up the congestion is to stop using the nasal spray. It may take several weeks for congestion to clear, and your doctor can prescribe oral steroids or other treatments to ease the congestion at first.

Flushing with saline rinse has been proven effective at clearing out blocked airways and is something you may want to try. You can find saline rinse bottles or Neti pots at your local pharmacy, which are used with warm water and a saline mixture to gently clear sinuses.

If you're going to use an over-the-counter nasal spray, just remember to read the directions and follow them closely. Don't use it longer than three days, only use it every 10 to 12 hours, and not more than twice in 24 hours. For congestion lasting longer, speak with your doctor about avenues of relief (via Healthline).