Rebound Congestion

Rebound congestion is a constant nasal stuffiness (congestion) that develops from the overuse of nasal sprays (or drops or gels) that contain a decongestant medicine. This type of congestion occurs even when a person is not experiencing allergies or other cold-like symptoms.

Some examples of nasal spray decongestants are oxymetazoline (such as Claritin or Drixoral) and phenylephrine (such as Dristan).

Rebound congestion can develop from using a nasal decongestant more times in one day or more days than the label says. As the medicine wears off, sinus membranes swell, causing congestion, and a person may respond by using a higher dose of decongestant. If the cycle continues, a person builds up a tolerance by using larger and larger doses until congestion occurs whenever the person does not take the medication.

Rebound congestion can lead to addiction to decongestant nasal sprays.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
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