I’m cured, I can breathe again!

Ever since having wisdom teeth extraction in a private hospital in Australia, I have my body has been addicted to Drixine or more specifically its active component called oxymetazoline. But the good news this is history thanks to the American health care. Here’s how to beat this nasty legal drug which is putting many with nasal breathing difficulty through hell. There is hope! read on.

What is Oxymetazoline? – get to know the devil

Oxymetazoline, or Drixine/Afrin as it is known to consumers as a rapid nasal decongestant. The marketing sells it to you as a “rapid 12 hour relief from nasal congestion due to colds, hay fever and flu for the whole family.”. Oxymetazoline is the active ingredient in Drixine/Afrin which does all the damage. It is also present in Vicks Sinex, Afrin (USA), Sudafed etc..

Let’s compare the marketing to reality

Marketing The truth
Starts acting in a few minutes True. It’s frightening at 1st to feel a drug acting so quickly opening up your nasal canal.
Reduces swelling in nasal passages True. By “shrinking” the blood vessels & turbinates in your nose. You actually feel them shrinking and occasional pop and nose bleed.
Controls excessive flow or build up of nasal secretions Nasal secretions are good since they clean out the nose from all the mess you breath in. Now your nasal canal is going to be dry and open to intrusions.
Acts fast for up to 12 hours At first yes this is true but it quickly escalates into max of 2 hours.
Treatment should not exceed 3 days Should say more than 1 day. After the 2nd day you need to use this to breathe normally. This is where 3 days escapes into a weeks, months and then years.

The dangers

Once you have used Oxymetazoline for a few days you cannot stop it without going through pain. Your nose by then has gotten used to being fed this drug and if you stop your nasal passage will expand so much that you wont be able to breathe through your nose or sleep and will feel like your nose has swelled up. Worst is, after weeks of use your nasal passage gets damaged so much that you start loosing your sense of smell. Lack of smell will change your life around especially taste – watch out!

What are your options?

  • Go cold turkey for at least a week of torture not being able to breathe and hope your nasal passage “rebounces back”,
  • Stop using Oxymetazoline in one nasal passage and survive on the other and gradually ween off the 2nd one or (if neither options worked)
  • Radio frequency.

The cure – Radio frequency

The turbinates are shelves on the side of the nose. The main ones are the middle and the inferior. They normally enlarge and shrink. They especially enlarge with a cold or infection because blood is coming to the area to fight infection. They enlarge with allergy, and become pale and swollen.

nasal-interior

What do Turbinates do?

The turbinates serve a major function. They warm inhaled air before it enters the lungs. They are covered by millions of cilia which defend the body against contaigons and irritants in the inhaled air. They provide an environment for the good white blood cells, and a bacteria-fighting enzyme called lysozyme, to gather and fight infection. They act as a baffle to better direct the flow of air.

No matter how much your turbinates seem to cause you trouble, you don’t want to just remove them. If you did, you would have dryness, crusting and sensations of burning pain. Doctors have therefore come up with various ways to reduce the blockage of your nasal passages without removing your turbinates and their cilia.

The procedure – Radio frequency

radio-frequency
The device used to send radio frequency

The physician uses a radio frequency current to coagulate the material under the mucosa. This therapy is precisely directed, and does not damage nearby tissue as do other methods which generate heat. . It seems to be the best approach. It is an office procedure taking around 30 minutes and is somewhat painless.

Where to get this done?

I had my done at the ENT (ear, nose & throat) center in Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) in Palo Alto, California USA. I never heard of this until my allergy specialist (also at PAMF) advised me of this quick win procedure with the amazing ENT specialist Dr. Arman Abdalkhani.

Back in Australia I traveled from specialist to specialist spending a large amount of money trying to get myself off Drixine. Xrays, meds that made me sick and failed cold turkey attempts yielded no results until I arrived in America. This whole procedure was covered by my private health care.

So, now I can breathe again 24×7. I sleep better, feel better and my sense of smell is coming back… slowly but it’s getting better. The world feels fresh to me to be able to walk past flowers and able to smell them. You really get a sense of appreciation only once you lost something and then gain it back. I’m back baby!

Drixine/Afrin (and their Oxymetazoline variants) should be banned! Full stop.

If you know anyone out there who is going through nasal issues direct them to this blog post and save their life!

mum-radio-frequency
My mum had this procedure done in 2013 too

Ernest

Author: Ernest W. Semerda

Veryfi cofounder (#YC W17 cohort) ~ mobile automation software designed for the construction workforce. GSDfaster founder ~ be more productive. Follow me on Twitter: @ernestsemerda

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  • Ed

    It’s true Afrin is the Devil! I am going on 35 days Afrin free from a 5 year addiction. It has been the fight of my life. The day I stopped taking the Afrin I started suffering from anxiety and mild panic attacks. This is still going on today, although it is SLOWLY getting better. I saw a ENT a month ago and I am on Flonaise, a moisterizing saline spray, and sudafed 12 hour- to help with the congestion. My nose does not get as stuffed but I still almost every day take half a sudafed. I have my good days and bad days. I am going in tomorrow for the ENT to check my progress and possibly go through Turbinate surgery. I am crossing my fingers and hope for the best. It’s still tough to get that thought of quick relief out of my head, and I know it is going to take time, but my advice too is to stay away from Afrin!!! No good will come from it.

    • Hi Ed, good to hear you are doing something about this. Personally I wish I did the Turbinate Surgery sooner then having to suffer all that time. I hope all goes well for you and you get cured soon!

    • Julie Maxim

      Question.:Did they make you stop the Afrin for 2 weeks before this procedure? They are making me. I’m supposed to cold turkey one nostril and wait two weeks then have procedure in that nostril. Then do same with the other..I suffer debilitating congestion/blockage in both nostrils.I had it before the Afrin use. I have a severely deviated septum, severe allergies, etc The only thing I’ve ever been offered by ENTS is flonaze. I cannot use steroids (even nasal) due to immune system problems I have. I have a disease that weakens my immune system, causing me to get infections in my throat if I use any steroids at all. Suffice to say, I have not been able to make it the two weeks. I get migraines, ear aches/infections, panic attacks, etc. I keep putting off the procedure because of this. I didn’t see you mention having to stop the Afrin: is it sae to have procedure without stopping?

      • SANJAY SINGH

        Hi….I have a deviated septum and have had two surgeries to correct the deviation. I’m now due for my third surgery as the septum has once again deviated. Is the Radio Frequency method good for deviated septum? My nasal passages get so constricted that I’m forced at times to use steroid sprays ( Dimetapp Nadal Spray) and this weakens the nasal structure and causes bleeding. Not to mention that after use, the nasal passage gets extremely constricted. Is the Radio Frequency available in Australia?

    • Avikk Sharma

      Hey Ed!! What is your condition now?? Please tell me how you managed in the end! ?

  • Badmedicine

    My Grandmother couldn’t live without that stuff for about 20 years.

  • Sistaha

    Hello,
    I have swollen turbinates due to recently developed allergies 4 mos ago. Using Steroid nasal spray now hoping to shrink them. If not, ENT said possibly surgery. My concern with surgery is the fact that i have allergies that will continue to cause my turbinates to swell! So, will I be in the same position again in the near future? How are ur turbinates holding up against allergens after the surgery? Thanks!

    • Hi, I didn’t have the surgery. It was an in patient procedure which shrinks them using radio frequency (ref above). 30 mins procedure and your good to go. That held perfectly well for around 3 years and now it’s still good but I might need a touch up. I like to avoid surgery since its too invasive. Unless of course you have no other options. A surgery will fix things for good but as with any invasive procedure you just never know what other issues it will create. Hope all goes well and you get the right fix.

      • Sistaha

        Thanks for the reply. My Dr. does radio frequency and he said that is what i need. . Do you still need to take your allergy meds after the procedure, or were u able to stop them as well? My only allergy symptom in nasal/sinus/ear congestion. When u say you need a touch up, are you having alot of congestion again? I’m a little concerned about having to do the procedure numerous times due to possible long term complications or negative effects on my turbinates! Thanks again!

        • No meds required after the procedure. Touch up means after 3 years post the procedure my sinus could do with another radio frequency. I prefer less invasive procedures than a surgery so a touch up isn’t as bad as surgery where they cut out parts of your turbinates.

          • Brenton Stewart

            Hi Ernest, Im thinking of coming to the U.S to get this procedure done too. Did you end up getting your 2nd treatment as yet or still only had it done once ?

          • Yap had the 2nd one done. It’s not a 100% permanent solution but definitely improves breathing. Today I use (as a backup a home brew mix of drixine/afrin 1/3 and 2/3 saline solution. An allergy specialist at PAMF advised me of this mix and it works great without any rebound or addictive effects.

          • misschou

            Hi ernest, how long does it take after your 1st to the 2nd one? And how is the 2nd one so far?

  • Steve

    Hi, is it possible to get this procedure done in Australia?

  • Patient

    No. No. No. It is not appropriate to call for a ban of this medication. Just follow the label directions. If you had quit after three days you may have gotten hooked, but not so badly for so long. I know, I did during all of my pregnancies. I got off of it with the “one nostril at a time” method. I am glad that this medication is available over the counter to provide quick relief. It is very effective for that. It is not for long-term relief, as you learned. It can give a sufferer a good night’s sleep when they really need one. One good night’s sleep is better than nothing. Just because you had a negative experience caused by your own failure to follow the label does not mean it should be banned for all of mankind, that is a silly notion and I am certain that you are not a silly person. I am happy that you found relief.