‘Rhinitis Medicamentosa’ also known as rebound rhinitis occurs upon overuse of over-the-counter nasal decongestants. Examples of such sprays include Afrin, Vicks Sinex.
These sprays work by constricting the blood vessels in your nose by acting on the vessel constricting receptors in the nose. When these blood vessels contrict, nasal congestion is reduced and air can move freely through the nose.
Unfortunately these sprays work so well that patients continue to use them without addressing the initial underlying problem. On continued use, these sprays become less and less effective as the vessel constricting receptors become reduced in the nose. As a result, more sprays and at increasing frequency are needed to achieve the same initial result. Finally the nose becomes very inflammed with worsened congestion leading to the condition rhinitis medicamentosa.
This condition can be difficult to treat as the patient is convinced that they need to continue using the decongestants. However, a gradual tapering regimen of the decongestants along with concurrent nasal corticosteroids can restore normal function back to the nose. Finally by seeing a qualified Allergy & Immunology specialist, the initial cause of the problem can be accurately diagnosed and appropriately treated.