Rebound Congestion

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Question

How can I avoid rebound congestion if I use a decongestant nasal spray?

Answer

Topical decongestants such as decongestant nasal sprays should only be used for 3 days to avoid rebound congestion. Rebound congestion is the worsening of the original congestion due to a dependence on the nasal passage for the medication in order to keep the blood vessels constricted. The nose develops a tolerance to the medication requiring more medication to produce the same effect and eventually becoming ineffective in relieving the congestion.

Although the precise mechanism of this reaction has not been identified, the prolonged vasoconstriction caused by nasal decongestant sprays is thought to cause a secondary vasodilatation (resulting in congestion) and a decreased response to the nasal sprays themselves.

Rebound congestion treatment

Treatment of rebound congestion consists of withdrawal from the decongestant nasal spray , and replacing the decongestant spray with a topical normal saline product such as Walgreens saline nasal spray. This can be used to restore moisture and relieve dry nasal passages.

The mucous membrane typically returns to normal in 1 to 2 weeks following discontinuation of the nasal decongestant spray.

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