jo.com has written a very thorough review, and I don't intend to repeat the same information. It's all accurate, and I agree with everything in it. I simply want to add some information about this product that I believe to be important:
Recommend this product?
It's very important to pay attention to the 6 dose limit; as jo.com said, the product can be addicting. You can get away with doing them as little as 9 hours apart, but no less, and no extra doses! Not only is the addiction a miserable experience that is almost impossible to beat, it has side effects of it's own.
First of all, addiction doesn't mean that you just use it every day. You need it with increasing frequency to breathe. I knew a man who used it every few minutes! People have had to have surgery to attempt to repair the damage, and it's not always successful. Second, addiction damages your sense of smell--permanently. And third, Afrin raises your blood pressure for as much as 24 hours after use, according to my doctor. If you're using it all the time, it can contribute to hypertension. For these reasons, though it may be recommended by many doctors, I've heard many treat it as anathema.
As for me, I can't get through a cold without it. I highly recommend it - used carefully.
There's no real reason to pay more for different varieties of Afrin; Oxymetazoline HCl 0.05% is the active ingredient in all of them, though eucalyptus and menthol are sometimes effective natural decongestants. I would try them alone first, without the Afrin. If they don't work, then move to the big gun.
The less often you use it, the quicker it works. It helps to understand how it works. In simplistic terms, because I'm simple: there are blood vessels (or maybe veins...I'm a little vague on the specifics) in your nose that shrink when you lie down. When you have a cold or other respiratory irritation, these vessels remain engorged. Oxymetazoline HCl shrinks them. Continued use of the product diminishes the ability of those vessels to shrink of their own. They lose their elasticity, and, apparently their ability to signal themselves to shrink. This is what causes the addiction.
If you should blow it (no pun intended...), here's what you do: as soon as you realize you're addicted, add a little saline to your bottle. Use for a few days, then add a bit more. Keep adding saline to the Afrin until you're using nothing but saline. It's not foolproof, but it's the best shot you have of returning your sinuses to normal. I'm sorry to admit that I've done it successfully several times.
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