In an Effort to Raise Awareness of Nasal Spray Addiction, Consumer Advocates Announce Formation of SHUN (Safe and Healthy Use of Nasal Sprays)

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Addiction to over-the-counter medicated nasal spray is a serious problem in the United States. These products are indicated to treat symptoms and conditions that can last from one week to several months, such as colds and allergies, yet the products are prohibited from use beyond 3 days. SHUN’s mission is to ensure that all Americans know about the consequences of this overuse and the treatment alternatives.

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Each year, millions of Americans use over-the-counter medicated nasal sprays to help relieve nasal congestion and other similar symptoms, not knowing that these products contain harmful chemicals that can lead to addiction. These products are indicated for use no longer than three days, but since most colds and allergies last longer, sufferers often treat beyond the 3-day limit. Ultimately, symptoms return more severely and consumers are forced to depend on these nasal sprays for continual relief due to a process known as “rebound congestion,” or rhinitis medicamentosa. This is the vicious cycle that leads to addiction. It is estimated that 10 million Americans are addicted to nasal sprays, due to misuse. With the formation of SHUN (Safe and Healthy Use of Nasal Sprays), consumers are joining forces to raise awareness of this health issue and prevent future addiction.

While there are many sprays on the shelf, the vast majority contain either oxymetazoline or phenylephrine, the two potentially harmful ingredients. And the FDA recognizes that these substances can be harmful when used improperly. After feeling initial relief, most consumers continue to use these sprays multiple times a day for the duration of their symptoms—typically 5-10 days. While the manufacturers of these products warn against using the sprays beyond three days, the burden is placed on the consumer to take notice. The only mention of this warning on the product is in small print on the back of the box, and the real consequences are not at all disclosed.

Over time, this overuse bears more than just the risk of habitual behavior. As these chemicals continue to harshly erode the nasal cavity, the health of those passageways becomes increasingly compromised. In many cases, an invasive sinus surgery procedure is required under general anesthesia. And even this drastic measure is not always curative.

Luckily, this problem is not without a solution. There are several safe alternatives to treat nasal congestion and similar symptoms. From saline rinses to neti pots to capsaicin-based nasal sprays, consumers can make an active choice to safely treat their symptoms and avoid the addictive products. And SHUN is here to help. If you or someone you know is addicted to nasal spray or has been in the past, please visit the SHUN website for more information, at In order to maximize its success, SHUN needs to generate a public outcry about the serious health consequences of misusing a seemingly innocuous bottle of nasal spray. With cough/cold season approaching, now is the perfect time to get involved and help prevent this addiction from growing. So please help SHUN alert sufferers to this concern by letting friends and family know that they should either strictly adhere to the warnings on the nasal spray boxes – or use safer, alternative treatments such as those cited above.

And please visit SHUN online at


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