You may have heard that using decongestant nasal sprays can cause an “addiction” — after the spray wears off, the user may experience even worse congestion, which creates an endless cycle of more nasal spray. 

However, while there are potential side effects to using Flonase nasal spray, stopping Flonase abruptly is unlikely to cause problems. Here’s why.

What is Flonase? 

Flonase is a brand name for fluticasone nasal spray. It’s a corticosteroid that reduces inflammation and relieves itching. It’s used to treat the symptoms of year-round and seasonal allergies, such as:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny or itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery or itchy nose

If you want the generic of Flonase, ask your pharmacist for fluticasone propionate nasal spray.

The suggestion to avoid stopping Flonase suddenly or “cold turkey” may be based on instructions for people who have been taking oral steroids and then start taking Flonase. If you’ve been taking oral steroids, your doctor will most likely gradually decrease your dose once you start using Flonase.

For example, suddenly stopping the corticosteroid prednisone could trigger withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

What about nasal spray addiction? 

When you use over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestant sprays often, your nose may become less responsive to the medication’s effects after a few days. This may mean you need to use more to get the same effect, and if you stop using it, your congestion may get worse.

While some people may worry that this indicates an addiction, according to the Mayo Clinic, these reactions are simply a rebound effect. The Mayo Clinic notes that OTC nasal decongestant sprays don’t cause the physiological cravings associated with addiction. 

However, if you still want to avoid rebound congestion, it’s best not to use OTC nasal decongestant sprays more than 3 days in a row. 

Flonase is a corticosteroid nasal spray available without a prescription rather than a nasal decongestant spray. It contains steroids and shouldn’t cause a rebound effect. 

What are the side effects of Flonase? 

According to the  Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the most common adverse effects of Flonase use are:

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Nosebleeds
  • Nasal burning or itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough

Call your doctor if you experience:

  • Severe or frequent nosebleeds
  • Continuing runny nose or crusting around your nostrils
  • Noisy breathing
  • A wound that doesn’t heal
  • Redness, white patches, or sores in your throat or mouth
  • Body aches, fever, or chills
  • Eye pain or blurred vision

Allergic reaction

Get emergency medical help if you have an allergic reaction to Flonase. Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of throat, tongue, lips, or face
  • Lightheadedness

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist 

Flonase is available over the counter without a prescription. If you have questions about Flonase or are currently taking other medications or supplements, talk to your pharmacist. Some medications may interact with Flonase.

If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant, talk to your doctor before starting Flonase. 

Takeaway 

Stopping using Flonase (fluticasone) nasal spray abruptly typically won’t cause issues. If you start taking Flonase while taking oral steroids, your doctor may gradually decrease your dose of the oral steroids to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

If you have questions about taking Flonase or about its side effects, talk with your pharmacist.