Breathe Easy...Through Your Nose

Before I get lost in the story behind this particular blog, let me tell you, oxymetazoline nasal spray is one of the most incredibly effective products ever developed to clear a stuffy nose.  That said, this particular over-the-counter medication may also be arguably one of the most frustrating products ever developed. 

This medication works incredibly well to clear a stuffy nose; however, if it is used for more than 2-3 days in a row, your body may become dependent on it and you may get a rebound stuffiness that is worse than the original congestion when you try to stop using it.

Three weeks ago I had septoplasty surgery.   For the past 3-4 years I have been dealing with this breathing issue in my nasal passage.  After a few medication therapy trials, my ENT Doctor said he could fix the issue with this simple surgery.  He described to me that he would simply peel back the mucous membrane that covers my nasal septum.  He would then use his scissors and cut out a little of the protruding bone and clean out a little of the septal area.  Next, he would replace the mucous membrane, put in a few stitches and it would be finished.  Sounds painless, right?

The surgery went beautifully.  I was home from the surgery center by 11am, resting in my chair.  Yes, there was a little swelling and I could definitely feel that someone had been cutting on the inside of my nose; however, the incisional pain was really not that bad. 

Later that evening, I began to get a little tickle in the back of my sinus.  I woke the next morning with a fever and my nose was beginning to get a little stuffy.  By the time I made it into my follow-up appointment that afternoon I had a fever of 101.5F and my nose was so plugged up I couldn’t breathe out of it.  Here is the catch; I was told I could not blow my nose for at least a week because of the recent septoplasty surgery.

While I was at my appointment my Doctor asked me if I would like a little blast of oxymetazoline.  He has this special little nasal blaster he uses to squirt the medication back into the sinus.  I asked if he thought it might help my congestion and his reply was, “well, let’s see”.  So, he blasted two squirts of this medication up each nasal passage and within five minutes I was able to inhale through both nostrils like a wind tunnel.

This was both fantastic and scarry at the same time.  I have been a pharmacist for many years, yet rarely do I get to see a medication work so quickly and efficiently.  My nose is telling me, “YAHOO!!”; however, my pharmacist brain is telling me to be careful.  I was hesitant to use a dose the next day because of such great concern for the rebound effect.  Over the next  four days I used two more doses of this medication.  Each time, my sinus passage cleared out almost immediately and allowed for a beautiful nasal inhalation of oxygen.

Again, this medication works very well for SHORT TERM treatment of nasal congestion.  If you use this medication more than twice daily for more than three days, you will have a very difficult time tapering off of the medication without experiencing some extreme rebound congestion.


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