I knew I was using too much of it. I rationalized my thinking. “This bad cold and congestion will go away and the sun will come out and the birds will chirp and this will go away on its own and I will be better and more important be able to breathe.” Not only do I talk in run-on sentence but I think in run-on sentences as well.
What I was overusing…abusing if you want…was nasal spray. Clearly, almost all nasal spray packaging warns against overuse. And some of it warns against possible addiction issues. But none of that registered with me.
I talk for a living. People at home don’t want to hear a news anchor who sounds like his head is in a bucket of molasses. With the flu raging, I wasn’t going to the doctor or going to give much thought to letting a bad case of nasal congestion bog me down.
I used the nasal spray for a week. Used it for another week. A third. A fourth week. A fifth.
At some point, my blood pressure was beginning to go up. On Feb. 6, the fuse burned down for the problem to ignite. My chest began to pound. My arms were hurting. The palms of my hands began to pound and my breathing became labored. At 4:40pm, I headed to the emergency room.
Walking in with chest pain, the ER folks move really fast. My blood pressure was 180 over 105. Going through all the particulars with the doctor we kept coming back to one thing. OTC. Over-the-counter medications. We kept coming back to one in particular. Nasal spray.
"How long have you been taking this?"
“A month,” I said.
“Wow,” she said.
“Maybe longer,” I said.
“Wow,” she said again.
“I know,” I said.
Turns out that many over-the-counter medications can make your blood pressure go up. What I overlooked were the labels that warn about frequent, prolonged use. They kept me overnight. Lung and heart scans were ok. No damage. No problem. But, the doctor told me I was going to experience what is referred to as “nasal spray bounce-back.” It’s basically when your nasal passages rebel and turn on you while your body rids itself of the nasal spray.
I was going to skip a day and go back to work. She laughed. “Oh no. You are going to be miserable while your body corrects this.”
Five weeks into 2018, I had already burned three sick days and was not happy about it. Slowly over the next few days, with the help of a steroid spray and a nasal rinse kit, my sinuses returned to proper working order. I use the rinse kit every couple of days and all is going well. The blood pressure is down and I’m back to annoying my buddies at work.
When I felt like moving around after going home from the ER, I slowly started cleaning up a bit. I found nasal spray in cars…Drawers. Cabinets. Work bags. Gym bags. The laundry room. The kitchen. The bathroom. Pretty much anywhere you could stash one, I did.
If you use nasal spray. Read the label. Don’t stray from the directions. And when you can, always breathe deep.
Watch Thursday on WHNT News 19 at 10.