Afrin is an over-the-counter brand of oxymetazoline. You can find Afrin in almost any supermarket or pharmacy. Its main use is as a decongestant nasal spray. It is sprayed into the nasal passages to relieve nasal congestion and other nasal symptoms of colds and sinusitis . Many non-Afrin over-the-counter cold remedies also include oxymetazoline.
How does it work
Afrin causes the blood vessels lining the nasal passages to narrow (get smaller). Sometimes , especially with overuse of this drug, blood vessels can swell after the drug wears off, leading to even more congestion. Then you need to use the medicine again to alleviate these symptoms. This is called rebound congestion or sometimes nasal spray addiction because it leads to a cycle where you have to continue using the drug or suffer more unpleasant symptoms. To avoid nasal congestion, you should never use Afrin or other medications that contain oxymetazoline for more than 3 days in a row .
How to use
Afrin is a liquid that comes in a plastic bottle with a special tip. Hold the bottle upright and upside down, insert the tip into the nostril (so that only about 1/8 inch of the tip is inside the nose), squeeze the bottle to spray the liquid into the nose; As you do this, take a deep breath. Afrin Nasal Spray is for nasal use only and should never be swallowed. You must follow the directions on the label exactly. Afrin nasal spray should not be used for more than three days in a row to avoid developing a condition called rebound congestion (or drug rhinitis).
Who should not take Afrin?
Children under the age of six, pregnant or nursing women, or people who have had an allergic reaction to Afrin (oxymetazoline) should not use it. This medicine should be used with caution in people with kidney or liver disease. People with diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease, stroke, or a history of high blood pressure are advised to discuss the use of this medication with their healthcare provider. It is important to check all medications with your healthcare professional and pharmacist to ensure that you are not taking a medication that may cause adverse reactions when used with Afrin.
Afrin should not be taken if you are currently taking or have taken an MAOI inhibitor such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline, emsam, and tranylcypromine in the previous two weeks. Before taking Afrin, your healthcare professional and pharmacist should be aware of any other medications you are taking (both prescription and over-the-counter, including herbal supplements).
The side effects of Afrin vary, but can include: burning or tingling in the nasal passages, increased nasal discharge, dry nasal passages, sneezing, nervousness, nausea, dizziness, headache, and insomnia. If these side effects are especially serious or persist, call your doctor. The following side effects are serious and should be reported to a healthcare professional immediately: heart palpitations or palpitations (less than 60 beats per minute for most people who do not exercise).
As with other medicines, a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to Afrin is possible. If you have symptoms such as swelling of the face, lips, mouth, or tongue, difficulty breathing, speaking, or swallowing, or noisy breathing (called wheezing), you should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
A note on nasal spray addiction
As briefly mentioned above, some people have reported dependence on Afrin (oxymetazoline). This is most likely the result of a bounce overload. Once the effects of Afrin wear off, your symptoms may be worse than before using the nasal spray. Some people use the spray again, falling into a vicious cycle that can be seen as an addiction. That is why it is recommended not to use Afrin for more than three days in a row.