How Overuse of Nasal Spray Can Make Your Nasal Symptoms Worse

A woman using nasal spray.

How often do you use a decongestant nasal spray for your stuffy nose or allergy symptoms? It may seem like the magic solution for that stuffiness, but overuse of nasal spray can cause real problems.

Whether you get them with a prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), nasal decongestant sprays are a popular treatment for many annoying nasal symptoms and conditions like allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps, vasomotor rhinitis, or upper respiratory tract infections. However, as the adage goes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Overuse of nasal spray can cause some unexpected and potentially serious side effects. But how much is too much, and what else can you do to treat congestion?

What Happens When You Overuse Nasal Spray?

Overusing nasal spray can reduce its effectiveness and even worsen your symptoms between doses. This is because these sprays are only meant to be used for short-term relief. This is why each bottle advises patients not to use the spray for more than 3 to 5 days.

Nasal spray works by shrinking congested blood vessels to open up your nasal passages. This helps to clear up your nasal congestion and stop your runny nose. However, if you use an intranasal decongestant longer than recommended, you’ll need more medication to get the same level of relief.

After even just a few days, your blood vessels can stop responding to the medication entirely. This can make you more vulnerable to additional health problems, such as:

This last one is especially important, so let's take a closer look at that.

What is Rhinitis Medicamentosa?

Also known as rebound congestion, rhinitis medicamentosa is inflammation of your nasal mucosa caused by the overuse of nasal spray. This condition is a direct cause of overusing nasal decongestants. Instead of treating your congestion, the medicine irritates your nasal passages and worsens your congestion.

Can you imagine having to spray your nose each and every day, only for your congestion to get worse? Regarding rebound congestion, the longer you use your nasal sprays, the longer your congestion will last, leaving your nasal lining more inflamed. 

If you can’t identify any pollutants or allergens triggering your chronic congestion, your solution may actually be the problem!

Symptoms of rhinitis medicamentosa include:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose— also known as nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nasal passages

The easiest and most effective way to treat rhinitis medicamentosa and put an end to those symptoms is to stop using nasal decongestant sprays. If your symptoms are especially bad though, this can be much easier said than done.

Dependency and Decongestant Sprays

If you find yourself habitually using a decongestant spray such as Oxymetazoline, your built-up resistance can actually develop into an unhealthy dependency. You will be left in a hopeless cycle of using your nasal spray in between bouts of aggravating congestion. 

The side effects of decongestant sprays can leave you feeling worse than when you started. In fact, the list of side effects for the most popular ingredient in nasal sprays, Fluticasone, comes with a litany of unwanted issues. [1]

To name a few common side effects: 

  • Bloody nose
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches
  • Sore Throat
  • Troubled Breathing 
  • Chest tightness
  • Stuffy or runny nose

Chances are, if you are fighting congestion, you don’t want to use a medication that lists a stuffy or runny nose as a potential side effect! 

Thankfully, some natural, mess-free methods of prevention and solution can help you stay away from nasal sprays and keep your nose snot-free!

Prevent and Treat A Stuffy Nose Without Nasal Decongestant Spray

The best way to avoid the consequences of nasal spray overuse is simply to not use nasal sprays. Thankfully, there are plenty of natural, chemical-free alternatives to solve your congestion woes.

Sometimes prevention is the best solution! Taking precautions to avoid your congestion triggers can go a long way in assuring your nose remains congestion free.

Allergy-Proof Your Home

Allergies are a common annoyance for millions of Americans. Whether you suffer from seasonal allergies— also known as hay fever— or year-round allergies to irritants like dust and animal dander, you can take steps to ensure your allergies don't drive you crazy.

The first place to start is inside your home. Easy steps you can take to allergy-proof your home include:

  • Sweeping or vacuuming weekly
  • Washing bedsheets, blankets, or other soft fabrics in hot water
  • Dust weekly
  • Keep windows and doors closed during pollen season
  • Keep your pets off the furniture

Related: Indoor Allergies? How to Allergy-Proof Your Home

Spicy Food

Have you ever felt your sinuses drain in a spectacular fashion after you've had a spicy or hot meal? This is thanks to what's called gustatory rhinitis. [2]

Potent foods like ginger, cayenne pepper, and garlic can also get your nose running after you eat. Keep a tissue handy to blow all that excess mucus and those irritants out of your nose for some much-needed relief.

However, it's important to note that spicy foods can make your body create more mucus, which could potentially cause additional congestion.

Related: Can Spicy Food Light a Fire Under Your Nasal Congestion?


Whether you're suffering from the sniffles, sinusitis, or seasonal allergies, SinuSonic can provide drug-free relief to even your worst symptoms.

The SinuSonic isn’t just used to treat congestion but to prevent it entirely. Daily use of the SinuSonic can leave your runny nose high and dry. With just one two-minute session per day, you can keep your sinuses clear without the intervention of nasal sprays or the risks of worsening congestion.

The device uses positive expiratory pressure (PEP) and gentle vibrations to naturally move mucus out of your airways. It can also help improve upper airway functionality, helping you breathe better as you decongest.

Keep Your Nose Clean With SinuSonic!

With its fast results and ease of use, it can be tempting to rely on nasal spray to treat your nasal symptoms. But it's incredibly easy to overuse this medication. And while you can't become addicted to it, overuse of nasal spray can potentially cause serious problems.

Thankfully, natural congestion treatments work just as well— if not better than— nasal spray. Give them a try— you may be surprised at what works for you!

Feeling over OTC treatments for nasal congestion? Try SinuSonic!

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  1. “Fluticasone (Nasal Route) Side Effects.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Jan. 2023, 
  2. Jovancevic, Ljiljana, et al. “Gustatory Rhinitis.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, Rhinology, 2 Mar. 2010,