August 19, 2016

Family Guy Nasal Spray Addiction

Peter Griffin on Family Guy
A patient came to my office one day with a chief complaint of being addicted to an over-the-counter nasal spray called Afrin. When asked why he started using it in the first place, he mentioned about that "one episode on Family Guy when Peter uses a nasal spray and feels invincible because he can breath so great through the nose and smell everything." Watch video below.

The implication being that he bought and used the nasal spray so he can breath amazingly well though the nose. Too bad it is only temporary.

Problem is, it should only be used sparingly for no more than a few days, otherwise one can eventually become addicted to the nasal spray. Over time, the patient will require using the nasal spray more and more frequently in order to achieve the same effect. Should the patient try to quit, extra-severe nasal congestion will occur which compels the patient to go back and start using the nasal spray again.

It's not just Afrin. There are other nasal sprays that have the same addictive potential including 4-way and Zicam. All these nasal sprays contain one of the following active ingredients: oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine. User beware!

When the patient mentioned Family Guy to me, not sure what I was thinking, but I thought it was a wholesome family friendly sit-com. Clearly, I don't actually watch Family Guy, but it got me curious about how this medical condition got represented in a pop culture cartoon let alone even being mentioned. Thankfully, there's a YouTube that shows this particular clip...

To read more about treatment options to address this condition, click here.

Please note that other classes of nasal sprays are NOT addictive such as steroid nasal sprays (flonase, nasacort, rhinocort, etc) as well as anti-histamine nasal sprays (astelin, astepro, patanase, etc)

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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