Nasal spray “bounceback” a serious health risk

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I know what you are thinking. “Great. Another story about Greg’s health.”

Bear with me. This one is a doozy.

It falls into the "ONLY ME' category.

I knew I was using nasal spray frequently.


A better word would be “sustained.”

An even better word would be “abused.”

I rationalized 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 importantly 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, nasal spray packaging warns against overuse.

But I ignored all that.

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.

People are dying with the flu. I wasn't going to tell the doctor I felt bad and was congested.

That was all.

I used the nasal spray for a week. (Insert RED FLAG warning here!)

Used it for another week.  (Another RED FLAG warning here!)

A third. (How many RED FLAGS do we have left?)

I didn’t worry about the congestion because, again, I didn’t have the flu.

A fourth week. A fifth.  (We're absolutely out of RED FLAGS.)

At some point, maybe the third or fourth week, who knows, the fuse was lit.

My blood pressure was beginning to go up.

On Feb. 6, the fuse burned down and the problem ignited.

My chest began to pound. My arms were hurting.   The palms of my hand began to pound and breathing became labored.

At 4:40 p.m., I headed to the emergency room.

I’m going to stop here for a moment for “a tangent.”

Tangents are good in storytelling.   Tangents add layers. Seasoning. A little spice to the gumbo if you will.

There was no one in the ER.

Instead of telling the nurse immediately at the counter what was going on I asked, “Where is everyone?”

She said “Snow Day. Everyone stays home on a snow day. Except you. (I laughed) What can I help you with?”

The first question everyone asked after I tell this story is not about nasal spray. The question they have is “there really wasn’t anyone in the ER when you went because it was a snow day?”

Tangent over. Back to the story.

Walking in with chest pain, the ER folks move really fast.

My blood pressure was 180 over 110.

Going through all the particulars with the doctor we kept coming back to one thing.


Over-The-Counter medications.

We kept coming back to one OTC medication 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 a large amount of over-the-counter medication can make your blood pressure go up.   And ignoring the directions warning of a long sustained pattern of use can make it exponentially worse.

They kept me overnight.

Lung and heart scans were ok. No damage. No problem.

But the nasal spray.   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.”

And I went home.

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.

Back to the nasal spray.

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.



Work bags.

Gym bags.

The laundry room.

The kitchen.

The bathroom.

Pretty much anywhere you could stash one I did.

I kept telling myself I would feel better soon and I wouldn’t need this.

It would pass.

And I would stop using it.

But I didn’t, and it almost bit me on my big rear end.

If you use nasal spray. Read the directions.

And follow them to the L-E-T-T-E-R.




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