Monday, February 9, 2015

I'm trying to break an addiction to nose drops (really)

At some point long ago in our marriage, my wife introduced me to the wonderful elixir known as nose drops.

You may not know what nose drops are. In fact, you probably don't. Most people I've come across are unfamiliar with them. Nose drops are essentially nasal spray in drop form. You take an eyedropper, pop a few drops into each nostril, suck it up into your nasal passages, and boom...if you're congested, I guarantee you'll clear right up in the next 1-2 minutes.

If that sounds really disgusting to you, I can't disagree. And the first time or two you try them, you're very likely to gag. It's an acquired skill, this whole "sucking liquid up into your sinuses without blinking."

But I am very good at it. Very, very good at it.

The reason is because once I discovered how incredibly effective nose drops are  far more effective as a decongestant for me than conventional nasal spray  I turned to them every time I had a cold. Or even just the sniffles. There are few things worse to me than not being able to breathe, and nose drops cleared me up every time.

The problem was, I started taking them even what I wasn't technically sick. I would get over my cold and still found that my breathing was restricted. So I took some more nose drops.

Everyone reading this who is familiar with nasal spray addiction knows exactly where this is going.

After awhile, I took nose drops all the time. All. The. Time. And the problem with taking nose drops or nasal spray (their addictive properties are the same because their essential ingredient is the same) all the time is that you become absolutely dependent on them. Physically and even mentally.

It's a phenomenon called "rebound congestion." Click on the link for the gory details.

Looking back at my first sentence above, it may seem that I'm blaming my wife for me becoming hooked on an over-the-counter drug. And that's not the case at all. She was just the unscrupulous street-corner dealer who gave me my gateway hit.

I kid, I kid. She's actually the one who long ago told me I was headed down a dangerous path with my nose drops. And she was, of course, right.

Anyway, I now go through 1-2 bottles of nose drops a week. At six bucks a pop, it's not quite as expensive as a cigarette habit, but it's still costs you.

It also leads to sleep disruption, or at least it does in my case. I get up every night, without exception, at least once to suck in a few nose drops so I can breathe better and fall back asleep.

Actually typing it all out and reading it makes this situation really seem terrible. And it IS a bad thing that I need to address.

So I'm starting to try and wean myself away from the nose drops. There are several ways to do it. You can go cold turkey, but I get so plugged up after a few hours that I'm not sure I could hack that. You're also encouraged to use a neti pot, which I do own and may try.

But the most ingenious method for breaking the cycle I've come across is the one-nostril-at-a-time approach. You continue taking your nose drops or nasal spray as usual in one nostril, but you leave the other one alone. It's an annoying feeling not being able to breathe out of a single nostril while the other one is clear, but as far as I can tell, there's no way to get out of this whole thing that isn't at least slightly annoying.

Anyway, the idea is that after a few weeks, one nostril will be permanently clear, allowing you to start work on the other one. I've just begun, so I can't tell you how well it works yet, but it gives me hope that there's a way out of this.

I'll have to let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

  1. An update three months later for anyone who still may care: I have successfully broken my nose drop addiction, and it wasn't really all that hard. I just went cold turkey. The first few days were a little miserable, but as time went on it got easier and easier. Now I sleep through the night with no problem. So it can be done!