Addiction to nasal drops: why is it dangerous and how can it…

Health Tips

In the play by the Belgian symbolist writer Maurice Maeterlinck, The Blue Bird, familiar to many of us, there is a scene in which Man came to the Palace of Night in search of happiness, and Night, which by its nature was unable to deny Man the right to inspect all the caves of the palace, says regretfully at one of the doors: “The blue bird has never flown here, you can believe me. Open if you want – there are Diseases… They subsided, poor things… Their time has passed, especially after they discovered microbes. They are sick all the time, moping. Doctors are torturing them… Go in there for a minute and you’ll see.” After that, the Man enters the cave and finds that among those suffering from Diseases, only Runny nose remained frisky, because such as he is “not particularly cruelly persecuted.” And despite the fact that in the 21st century this scene has not lost its ironic relevance, we will talk today about how improper treatment of a simple and harmless runny nose can lead to addiction, which often causes years of suffering, as well as ways to get rid of it.

How do nasal drops work?

Before discussing the degree of dependence on nasal drops, it is worth considering the mechanism itself for solving the problem. Actually, then it will become clear why we are so “dependent” on them. Any infectious or allergic agent causes a reaction of the nasal mucosa in the form of inflammation and swelling. In fact, this is nothing more than dilated vessels through which our immune cells actively move in order to stop the disease. If such edema noticeably increases, then air exchange in the sinuses of the nose is disturbed, so that sinusitis and frontal sinusitis may occur. To prevent this from happening, when there is a strong swelling of the nasal mucosa, doctors recommend using vasoconstrictor drops. But they should be used carefully, since nasal drops constrict blood vessels not only in the nasal mucosa.

Symptoms of dependence on vasoconstrictor drops and sprays

With excessive enthusiasm for vasoconstrictor drops (or violation of the recommended regimen), a decrease or increase in pressure, pallor, drowsiness and fainting can be observed.

The consequences of prolonged use of drops are also no less dangerous. First, there is atrophy of the mucosa with frequent nosebleeds, and then hypertrophy of the mucosa. This means that there are fewer vessels in the nasal mucosa, and more connective tissue. The result, alas, is disappointing: over time, the drops simply cease to act, and the swelling only increases.

How Addiction to Nose Drops Occurs

The “gateway to hell” of any addiction is the misuse of drops. The instructions recommend doing this for no more than 3-5 days so that the patient can avoid addiction. At the same time, the number of receptors (“buttons” that the drug “presses” in the nasal mucosa, causing vasoconstriction) grows – this is how our body tries to slow down the action of the drug that comes from outside. Imagine that before the drug needed to act on ten buttons in the nasal mucosa so that it would stop being blocked, and now it needs to “press” a thousand. Therefore, from dose to dose, the drops will be slower to cope with nasal congestion, which we so much want to get rid of quickly. What comes to mind in this case? That’s right: instead of increasing the amount of the drug to make it easier? It seems to be logical. However, this logic is a disease.

We put our own comfort and relief of symptoms above the long-term consequences and smoothly, imperceptibly, let addiction into our lives. Gradually, due to the abuse of drops, the mucosa dries up, as a result, its thickness becomes more and more, new vessels grow to nourish it and thus produce mucus. Because of this, congestion is growing and growing, and we begin to “befriend” around the clock with drops, which at the same time are already beginning to show their toxic effects. So a person finds himself in the clutches of an insidious addiction, which can lead him to the operating room of an ENT doctor, and to the cardiology department with a heart attack or hypertensive crisis, and to a psychiatrist with anxiety or insomnia, and so on.

How to get rid of addiction to nose drops

The goal of treatment is to break the vicious circle of allowing you to breathe and your nose to be moisturized and free of inflammation. Today, addiction to nose drops is cured with the help of hormones. Today we have at our disposal a whole class of drugs – topical (local) steroids. They are wonderful because they work only in the nasal mucosa and do not enter the bloodstream, thereby not having a toxic effect on the entire body; they act for 24 hours and it is often enough to use the drug only once a day so that the nose remains uncongested.

Since these drugs work slowly, you need to be patient and complete the full course of treatment – for some it is 2, and for others 6 months or more. It is quite acceptable to speed up the treatment with sessions of acupuncture (IRT) – since this technique just allows you to influence the nerve endings responsible for the functioning of blood vessels, including those in the nose.

Those patients who have previously failed treatment with topical steroids should not be upset: firstly, most doctors and patients use these drugs initially incorrectly – mistakes are made both in the method of administration of the drug and in the timing of treatment. Some patients, having “tormented themselves” for a couple of weeks, give up the idea, considering it hopeless. However, we repeat: today the problem of addiction to nasal drops is always solvable! Therefore, to begin with, you can try to select the right drug and its dose, intensify the treatment with sessions of physiotherapy and IRT. Secondly, it is not superfluous to examine the patient for allergic reactions, since these can exacerbate chronic inflammation in the nasal cavity, and therefore require stronger therapy than topical steroids alone. Today, for this it is not at all necessary to do a lot of allergic tests – just a couple of tests available in almost every laboratory.

In addition, sometimes the individual anatomy of the nasal cavity also affects the healing process, so some patients will need to undergo an additional examination that will clarify the condition of the nasal septum (it can be curved), turbinates (they can grow very strongly, and some sprays will no longer be able to cope) and paranasal sinuses (there may also be traces of inflammation), which prevents proper breathing. And the last thing: even if all of the above has been tried, there are spare treatment regimens, involving all the same hormones, but acting somewhat stronger on a scale of the whole organism. The main thing is to be patient and follow all the instructions of your doctor.

“How I lived with addiction to nose drops”: a real story with a happy ending

“Life without air is not life. I realized this at the age of 10, when I first encountered the problem of shortness of breath. It all started as an ordinary SARS … Then I was given a variety of diagnoses that explained why I could not breathe normally – from sinusitis to staphylococcus aureus. My parents forcibly took me to a terrible procedure according to the Cuckoo method – a sinus lavage, but it seemed that my brain was also washed along with them. The pain was terrible! They also removed my adenoids, tried to remove the tonsils, but I didn’t give it … At the age of 12, the doctors sent me to cauterize the mucosa with liquid nitrogen. That day I understood what torture is. It felt like nails were stuck in the brain …

The saddest thing in all this endless stream of treatment was that all the manipulations that the doctors did either did not help me or gave a temporary effect. Every year my condition worsened. As a result, a diagnosis was made – allergic rhinitis, but how to treat – they just shrugged. From time to time I dripped drops into my nose to somehow breathe.

However, over the years, it became more and more difficult to do this, hellish headaches were added, pressure began to jump, despite my young age. Trying to sleep normally turned into a nightmare – several times during the night I woke up from the fact that I was suffocating.

Once again, when an asthma attack occurred, I was hospitalized and had an urgent operation to correct a deviated septum, although it is still not clear where it has to do with it. At the same time, I underwent a vasotomy – a dissection of the vascular connections between the mucosa and the periosteum. However, this operation made me feel better literally for a year or two. Then the positive effect began to disappear at breakneck speed, congestion returned and whistling began. Later it turned out that as a result of the operation, the doctors cut off my excess cartilage and a hole formed in the nasal septum, which gave an additional load on the mucous membranes already burned by liquid nitrogen.

In general, every year I got worse, and in the end I switched to vasoconstrictor drops. Only they saved me and allowed me to breathe normally. However, it was they who played a cruel joke with me and led me to drug-induced rhinitis. Doctors in this difficult situation could not really offer anything. Someone offered some complicated operations, someone just endured, but they could not say exactly how much to endure.

Literally a miracle helped me to “get off” the addiction to nasal drops. At work, I took another course of educational lectures and suddenly realized that I was let go – somehow by itself. That evening I did not have time to buy drops and thought with horror how I could live until morning. At lunchtime the next day, I suddenly became aware that my nose was breathing, breathing without drops. The third month has gone since I live without them. During this time, I returned to them for just a couple of days when I had SARS. Apparently it was psychosomatic. Throughout my adult life. I can’t find any other explanation for this.”

Photo: depositphotos

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