Afrin Nasal Spray Side Effects and Risks

nasal-spray-side-effectsWhether it’s bad sinuses, overproduction of mucus, allergies, colds or another medical issue, millions of people suffer from nasal congestion on a day to day basis. There are numerous products on the market that treat nasal congestion, but what works for you depends on what type of medical condition you have and your own specific body type. One of the many popular decongestants out on the market is called Afrin. Some people have found relief from this product, but others have found many negative side effects that outweigh any benefits.

Afrin is an over-the-counter decongestant nasal spray. It works by constricting the blood vessels found in your nasal tissue. By constricting the blood vessels, the sinuses are prompted to begin draining congestion from the nasal passages. With regular drainage, the nasal passages will begin to clear and the user will be able to breathe through their nose with ease.

You should consult a doctor before taking any medication, even if the medication is over-the-counter. However, it is especially important to contact your doctor before using Afrin if you are pregnant, have heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease or glaucoma. You should also consult your doctor about any medication that you are currently taking to avoid dangerous interactions between medications. Even if it’s safe to take the medication, your underlying medical conditions or regular medications may require you to take a different dose.

What are the Side Effects of Taking Afrin?

There have been various claims of Afrin side effects. Who suffers from them depends on many factors such as dosage, constant use, medical conditions, body type and more. That is one of the many reasons why you should consult a doctor before trying any new medication. These side effects range in severity and length, but they should all be noted for consumers.

Short Term Side Effects

The short term side effects for Afrin can include a runny nose, nasal irritation, sneezing, burning sensation in the nasal passages, dryness and itching. These effects should gradually disappear after discontinuing the use of Afrin. Some natural remedies do help. If you continue to suffer from these side effects, seek medical attention.

Long Term Side Effects

Some of the nasal spray side effects can cause lasting damage to your body. Serious side effects such as seizures, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, tremors, headache and nausea can all be signs of a severe problem occurring in your body. If you suffer from any of these symptoms while taking Afrin, seek immediate medical attention.

Sufferers of these nasal spray side effects can end up with lasting medical problems such as heart damage, heart attacks, damage to the nervous system and brain damage.

In addition, there’s the possibility that you could suffer from an allergic reaction to the medication. Most people who had an allergic reaction to the medication suffered from hives, difficulty breathing, rash and swelling in the tongue, throat, lips and face. Though many instances of severe allergic reactions can be treated in time, they can leave lasting damage to the body. If the reaction is not treated in time, the patient may end up suffering from even worse damage or death.

Effects of Overuse

nasal-spray-side-effects2Afrin should only be used at its proper dosage for three days. If you still feel no relief, you should try another product or contact your doctor for a prescription medication. However, many people find no harm in using over-the-counter medications for longer than their intended use, especially if they haven’t started feeling any relief yet. Whether you don’t want to risk getting congestion again or want to keep trying it to see if you eventually get relief, some people simply don’t follow the recommended guidelines for usage. However, overuse of Afrin can cause several negative effects.

Overuse of Afrin can damage your nasal passages causing a condition called rhinitis medicamentosa. This condition can cause nose bleeds, dryness, stuffed up nose and headaches. Severe rhinitis medicamentosa can also cause loss in your sense of taste and smell.

Using Afrin beyond its directed dosage and usage limit may also cause rebound congestion. Rebound congestion is where the blood vessels dilate in response to being constantly constricted. Since the blood vessels are now increasing in size, the congestion returns either during use or immediately after usage. In addition, since the blood vessels are now purposely trying to enlarge, rebound congestion is often stated as feeling worse than the initial congestion. When this occurs, many people decide to reuse the product in hopes of lessening the effects of the rebound congestion. Overuse may follow soon after, and it may also be quickly followed by Afrin addiction.

Nasal Spray Addiction

It may seem silly to think that someone could be addicted to a nasal spray, but it happens more often than you might think. Frequent sufferers of nasal congestion are prime targets for addiction. If the spray works, they obviously don’t want to stop the usage for fear that their symptoms will return. However, even people who use Afrin for mild allergies or colds can be susceptible to addiction. Rebound congestion can make anyone become addicted to the spray. Sadly, addiction simply makes the rebound congestion even worse. You may feel temporary relief, but the rebound congestion will keep returning. If anything, it will only get worse due to repeated damage to your nasal passages from continued use of the spray.

Getting over Afrin addiction is not easy, especially after the first few days of being off of the medication. It can be so difficult that some people need to gradually be weened off of Afrin instead of simply stopping the usage. However, becoming free from the addiction as soon as possible can save you from getting sinus surgery, steroid injections or taking prednisone to treat the damage caused by the addiction.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Afrin?

It is very possible to overdose on Afrin. Many Afrin addicts and first-time users of the medication fall victim to Afrin overdoses. Since Afrin is available over-the=-counter, you are the only one responsible for paying attention to the dosage instructions available on the bottle. Only take your recommended dosage for the suggested amount of time.

Symptoms of an Afrin overdose include constricted pupils, nausea, vomiting, increase or decrease in blood pressure, shallow breathing, sweating, headaches, coma, insomnia and irregular heartbeat. If an overdose occurs, stop usage of the medication and contact emergency services immediately.

Is it Safe to Take Afrin?

Most medications come with some amount of side effects and risks. In addition, some of the risks come from improper use of the medication. Any medication can be dangerous if you take more than you’re supposed to take or take it for longer than intended. Whether Afrin side effects are enough to keep you away from this medication is entirely up to you. Do proper research, ask your doctor and take all of the risks into consideration before deciding to take Afrin. If you believe the benefits outweigh the risks, try it out. If not, it’s best to avoid it rather than take an unnecessary risk.

Dad, writer and photographer. Living the dream with my son Jake. I travel the world making friends and experiences while building my network or properties and friends.

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81 comments on “Afrin Nasal Spray Side Effects and Risks
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  4. Adnan Akhtar says:

    does the recovery period from rhinitis medicamentosa depend upon how long one has been using a specific nasal spray. If yes than haow long is the recovery peroid. if no than how soon would the nasal congestion abate if i have used the nasal spray for 6 – 7 days.

  5. MRie greene says:

    Oddly, I discovered taking norco alleviates the afrin addiction pretty much overnight. I had a sinus infection and went and used the afrin for like 10 days straight, but had a reason to be prescribed norco. I had just started trying to wean myself off the afrin, when adding the norco. Problem solved. I guess the opiate dilates the nasal passages too? Obviously I’m taking the opiate as prescribed- not snorting. I wonder if it would work for people having been on afrin long term??

    • Stephanie says:

      Well it sure doesn’t work for me. I take Norco daily for pain management for my arthritis and still have problems with trying to kick the “nasal spray” habit

  6. Mike says:

    What I haven’t been able to find online is the answer to the question, if you only use it once/24 hrs (instead of once/12 hrs) and/or alternate nostrils (rather than spray both nostrils each time), would that allow you to use it safely for a longer period of time than the published three-day maximum?

    • Evelyn says:

      I would like to know too. I use afrin just before bed every night just one drop usually in my right side and sometime in both sides, I don’t use afrin during the day. So, I don’t know if that could be still very bad side effects.

      • Evelyn says:

        I would like to know too. I use afrin just before bed every night just one drop usually in my right side and sometime in both sides, I don’t use afrin during the day. So, I don’t know if that could be still very bad side effects.

  7. Susan Lowry says:

    I’ve been using a Sudafed spray from England because it was the only thing that worked, but it appears I’ve gotten addicted to it. I thought my allergies were worse but the doctor seems to think it’s rebound congestion. I avoided Afrin but wasn’t aware this one could cause the same problem. Right now I am so congested I can’t breathe at all, haven’t slept in 2 days and have no desire to eat or drink anything because it’s so hard with my nose so blocked. But what really concerns me is that on day 2 of this severe congestion, I couldn’t smell even during the moments when I could breathe a bit. From the research I’ve done it appears that my sense of smell should come back once all the swelling and congestion have settled down. I make botanical perfumes so this is such a serious concern for me I have panic attacks. I never lost my sense of smell before, even when I was congested, but this congestion does feel lots worse than anything I’ve experienced before. Does anyone have experience with this. And please do tell me your sense of smell returned.

    • sharon says:

      Afrin is horrible. More than once I have used it and had rebound congestion. It was so bad I had severe anxiety. I have bad sinuses and have has surgery’s and at least 3 times a week I have no smell or taste and this is year round. When I get a cold I run to afrin and ended up at hospital and sent home with large dose of steroids to get inflammation down. Really, if u can handle a cold and stay away from afrin….your doing urself a BIG FAVOR!! After ur nose begins to get better after afrin use it still can take up to two weeks b4 your smell and taste come back..i know…been there …done this many times! Good luck

  8. Gary says:

    I am 68 and have had sinus congestion since age 26 after taking blood pressure medicine for a short time. Over the years, I went to 2 different Nose, Ear and throat docs and had one operation and allergy testing. The operation was an utter failure and allergy testing was of no help. I have been using Afrin spray diluted 50% by saline solution for about 15 years. I still have suffer from severe congestion, but this solution has worked for me, though my doctors continue to warn me about Afrin. Flonase and Nasacort are a waste of money and I experience nasal irritation without any relief from congestion. So much for doctors and their knowledge. My recommendation is to dilute the spray to offset possible nose irritation and use it whenever necessary. I am personally scared of what another Ear, Nose and Throat specialist might do to me. Of course, people may experience side effects from any medicine and I don’t recommend continued use if they out weigh the benefits of being able to breath and feeling less pressure.

  9. Ralph says:

    Well, great article. While my congestion has been borderline-severe, I suspect I am addicted, cause I’be been using Adrian over a year for congestion that began one day and refuses to leave. I have had no side effects, but I suspect that consuming the product that makes its way to my belly can’t be good. Not certain what to make of it. But seeing as the reviews of those who have visited doctors resulted in no relief, I certainly will not see a doctor. 3 hours can’t elapse where another shot (of Severe congestion Afrin) becomes essential. Any suggestions would be useful.

  10. Jess says:

    I have used afrin for 30 days i am also 20 weeks pregnant. Nobody should EVER USE AFRIN! I have rhinitis which is severe nasal congestion during pregnancy. I am now on 2 nasal sprays and steriods. I can not breathe through my nose it is so swollen from the afrin. Its giving me severe anxiety and panick attacks. I wish I went to an ENT right from the beginning. Other then doctors bouncing me around not knowing what to do for me. Now i get to suffer for a week till I’ll get relieve. So miserable!

  11. Sp says:

    I’ve used nasal spray for years,off brands but I’ve never used it more than three days. Recently though it’s been so hard to breathe I used it to much and well, I can’t breathe but it’s much worse which I knew would happen so that’s my fault. But I want to know if taking an anti inflammatory would help or what works.

  12. Now I am ready to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast
    coming over again to read further news.

  13. Jackson Brown says:

    Been using off-brand Afrin every night for years. I know I am addicted, but can’t seem to get through the night without it. Husband thinks it is responsible for the excessive, spontaneous sweat I experience (primarily head, face, upper torso). PCP has offered no solution to sweating. Perhaps husband is right, but I don’t know how to stop using the spray. Any ideas on what to do/how to stop would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

  14. LN says:

    I used Afrin for one day, and got congested as it wore off. I have been fighting a cough, with very mild cold symptoms that didn’t bother me. Doctor suggested using Afrin for a few days since he noticed a little nasal congestion to try to help against post nasal drip aggravating the cough. I took one dose last night, and one 13 hours later in the morning. By the afternoon, I felt very congested and clogged up, and that’s where I am holding now. I refuse to take more dosages, but I feel sicker than I did before taking it.

  15. Danny Dang says:

    Been using off-brand Afrin every night for years. I know I am addicted, but can’t seem to get through the night without it.I don’t know how to stop using the spray. Any ideas on what to do/how to stop would be very much appreciated. Thanks

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "Afrin Nasal Spray Side Effects and Risks"
  1. […] My team, our coaches, Hedley and Rolfe were aware of this and made an exception for me to carry my Afrin hidden in my sock out in the […]

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  3. […] was invited to write this piece on nasal spray side effects and I jumped quickly to do it. Why? Because, nasal sprays aren’t that great and I want to share […]

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