By the way, doctor: How can I break my nasal spray addiction?
Q. The air in my apartment gets exceedingly dry during the winter. I started using a nasal decongestant containing oxymetazoline hydrochloride. Now I'm hooked. Even when it's not winter, I can't breathe at night without it. How can I break this addiction?
A. Your problem is more common than you might imagine. First we'll deal with helping you get off your nasal spray, and then with trying to prevent the same problem from recurring.
The nasal membranes are pretty sensitive, and they can get used to chemicals applied to them. What's likely happening to you is a rebound phenomenon: When your nasal membranes don't "see" the oxymetazoline, they swell up more than they ever did without it.