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Afrin Nose Spray & Smell Loss
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Afrin Nose Spray & Smell Loss

I've got a bit of a cold and it's allergy/pollen season here in Atlanta so that's not helping either, but I have used Afrin very sparingly over the past couple of days to help with symptoms. I have not used Zicam spray, I've read those can cause damage to olfactory nerves. I did notice yesterday that my sense of smell was gone although I could still breathe through my nose (still a bit congested, but able to breathe). My question is, has Afrin ever been known to cause loss of smell? Is this a temporary thing just due to sinus inflammation or has the Afrin permanently damaged something? I'm a 28 year old male and I've never experienced such a drastic loss of smell. Any help?
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Avatar_n_tn
My Mom and I used Afrin around Thanksgiving 2007.  To date, neither one of us can smell or taste much of anything.  Has your smell and taste returned?  We have both been to several doctors and none can find anything wrong.  They claim it is not the Afrin, but how do they know? We are looking for others with the same problem and asking if you have found a solution.
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Avatar_n_tn
I used Afrin spray about three years ago when I had a bad cold.  I didn't read the directions very well and over used it.  Ever since then, I constantly have to blow my nose.  It drains every morning causing me to cough.  I went to my doctor and they tried treating me for allergies.  I never had an issue with allergies in the past.  When nothing worked, I gave up and thought it would just go away.  It didn't.  I have noticed that I can't smell things as well as I used to.  I personally believe I may have damaged my nose using this spray.  I regret ever picking it up off the shelf.  I have thought about seeing a nose and throat specialist, but am afraid of the costs that might add up to.  This may be the only way to go about it.  My doctor did say my septim was swollen.  That is why they thought allergies, but I tried everything out there for that and none worked.  The lack of smell may be causing issues with your taste buds, but I bet the problem is your nose.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have used Afrin for two days now (original formula) and I can not smell or taste ANYTHING AT ALL.  I found you by doing a search to see if anyone else has had the same problem.  I hope it goes away when it wears off, but after reading your post (and literally being unable to taste or smell even 12 hours after the last dose) I'm worried it may be more permanent.  Will keep you posted.
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Avatar_n_tn
I used Afrin a couple days ago. One day after using it, I realized that I could not taste my food although my nose was clear. I figured it was just temporary and would return. Now, two days later, as I was just cleaning some old moldy food out of the refridgerator, I realized that I didn't smell a thing. Nothing. This has never happened to me previously. And I, too, found this forum by searching on Afrin and "olafactory loss". I am very sure it is related to the Afrin. Before I used the Afrin, I could taste food even with a stuffy nose. Now, nothing. Clearly I am not the only one with this problem and it seems unreasonable that this is all a coincidence. I am going to book an appointment with an ENT specialist as soon as possible. I will post updates as I have them and I hope that everyone else will do the same.
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Avatar_m_tn
First off, are you saying you haven't been able to smell or taste anything since Nov. 2007? If so, that is absolutely terrible!

I cannot smell or taste anything, either. I used an Afrin-comparable product by CVS (same ingredient: Oxymetazoline HCl 0.05%) on Friday, January 8th, 2010, to treat sinus congestion and by the next day noticed that I couldn't really smell or taste anything. I continued using the medicine on Saturday, following directions carefully, skipped treatment on Sunday because I thought I was getting better, and used it again this morning because I thought I wasn't really getting any better. I smell nothing and taste nothing.

I didn't exceed the recommended dosage. I used it once a day (three sprays per nostril) for a total of three days. I am very concerned that this product may have killed my senses of smell and taste. Never have I thought that something like this would happen from medicine that's supposed to help.

I sincerely hope that there is a solution available. Please let me know if you hear of one. Thanks.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am 45 year old female never have used a nose spray until ziacam ads were all over tv.  I used it during a cold. I have loss some of my sense of smell.  sense then everytime I get a cold, my sinus locks up. I used Afrin five days and went to the doctor on 02/05/2010
the DR told me not to used the afrin anymore and prescribed steriods med. I am worried that once again I have loss my sense of smell.




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Avatar_m_tn
I'm following up with my situation and am happy to report that my senses of smell and taste returned after about a week and a half. It took prayers, and using a saline spray with aloe to promote healing in the nostrils. I'm not making any claims here that this is the solution for everyone. It may not work for you. Always seek professional help if you're not getting any better.
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Avatar_m_tn
I just googled afrin smell loss because I've used it for the last three days and noticed that my smell and taste were virtually gone.  I'm throwing this stuff away and am pretty concerned this could be permanent as I read through the posts.  Has any contacted afrin about this?
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Avatar_f_tn
I am currently getting over a bad signus and respitory infection. I saw the commercials and immediately had my boyfriend pick some up. After using it I noticed I couldn't smell much but my nose was clear. At first I ignored it but then realized I couldn't smell lotion hair shampoo or even my rabbits neglected litter box as I'm sick. I started feeling better and made my boyfriend some dinner and I couldn't smell anything and had a hard time tasting it too. I had to think about what I was eating to recognize it. It was hard seasoning and telling what was done. I'm a chef!! This is terrible! I haven't returned to work yet and am scared of what will happen when I do. Please someone let me know if they contact afrin.

Thank you,
A scared chef
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1222662_tn?1266947881
I am not professional chef - but I may as well be - I am horrified! Not being able to cook for my family, is depressing me.

I used Oxymetazoline once two days ago and still can not smell or taste. I can not tell if my baby has a soiled diaper or if my house is on fire. I am so scared and so grateful for pmjfrocks posting that after some time and nose flushing, the senses returned.  I pray that all of us will heal. I feel strongly that people should know about this. Clearly not everyone has this problem, but enough of us do. I never saw a warning on this label stating that you may lose your sense of smell and tatse, if I had, I never would have tried it.

Good luck everyone

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Avatar_m_tn
I have an one-year-old so I know what you're talking about when you say you can't smell your baby's diaper.

Hopefully, your senses will return --- hopefully everyone's senses will return. Have you tried using a saline spray with aloe yet? I used it once a day for a week and I believe it was integral to getting my senses back --- but not without a prayer, of course.

Because of the frequency of these kinds of reports, I'm wondering whether we should file a formal complaint to the FDA or something. This side effect we all had or are having is not mentioned as a possible side effect at all on the label. So, for that reason alone, I believe we should file formal complaints. Go to https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/medwatch-online.htm to file your complaints with the FDA. I'm going to do it right now.
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Avatar_f_tn
I completely lost the sense of smell and taste after the second dose of Afrin, which was 10 hours apart from the 1st one.

When I asked my doctor about this side affect he said did not know anything about it and my loss of smell could be from the cold itself. However the pharmacist knew well about this side effect and told me it was temporary and it should take a couple days for me to regain senses.

It took 5 days when I firs noticed I could smell Listerine again.
Now a week later my sense of smell and taste is almost normal.

I feel lucky I did not pick Zicam as this one may cause permanent damage.

Zicam Maker Settles Lawsuit Over Users' Loss Of Smell

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/6279576/detail.html

I would like this side effect listed as a common one.
May be to write to FDA?
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Avatar_n_tn
My mom and I have still not regained our loss of smell and taste as of this date, and since all the doctors that examined us refused to acknowledge that Afrin was the cause, we took their word for it, and just went on with life, ignoring the fact that we had no sense of smell or taste.  Obviously with all of these recent posts, we were not imagining that Afrin was the cause. I even filed a complaint with the FDA when this first happened, and received NO REPLY. After reading some of the solutions posted, my Mom and I are both going to run out and buy some saline with aloe and start praying.  We will let you know . . .
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Avatar_m_tn
I feel so bad for you. I can't imagine not being able to smell since 2007.

Yes, please try the saline spray with aloe method. Don't know if it'll work since it's been so long, but you never know. I used Ayr's Saline Nasal Gel with Aloe. Dose is one spray per nostril daily. I used it for like a week and a half before my senses returned. Yours may take longer since it's been several years. Check to make sure that you don't exceed the duration of use.

And, definitely pray about it.

And, I would most certainly complain to FDA, to the manufacturer, to the news, etc. I've already filed a formal complaint to the FDA through their online complaint form. It's easy to fill out. Won't take long.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear pmjifrocks:

Thank you for your suggestions and your kind thoughts.  My Mom is buying her Ayr's with Aloe as I write this message, and I will be purchasing mine tomorrow.  We will hope and PRAY for the best. We will let you know if it works!
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had no sense of smell or taste for almost 2 years now.  Used Afrin for two days, twice a day.  My senses are gone and according to my ENT, permanantly...and the only thing he could suggest was make sure i have smoke and carbon monixide detectors in the house.  I cant smell food, flowers, or my grandchildren after they have had a bath...BUT i also can't smell messy diapers (which could be a good thing) and i can't smell the farmers spraying their fields....but i would gladly smell all of that if given the chance.. before you use afrin or zicam or ANY nose spray, check with your doctor...
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello Afrin Users,

I used Afrin for two days (carefully following directions) and then got on a plane with a lingering sinus infection.  I got off the plane and quickly realized I had zero smell or taste even though I could breathe thru my nose easily.  I googled Afrin and smell loss and FLIPPED OUT!  I stopped using Afrin immediately, BUT DID REGAIN MY SMELL AND TASTE 36hrs later.  Maybe not 100%, but at least 80%.  I would never use Afrin again nor any product up your nose, it is not worth playing with such important senses!!  But, if you did use Afrin, and now can't smell or taste a thing (I put my nose up to nail polish remover and couldn't tell if it was water or the remover!), there is hope.  Stay positive, and give your body a chance to heal.  AND NEVER USE AFRIN AGAIN!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
I lost my sense of smell and taste for a whole week after using Afrin nasal spray. I do not wish to ever go through that again. I thought at first it was because of my cold but realized after using the spray it had to do with that. I was so scared after reading that some people have never regained their sense of smell that I would never have mine return. Not being able to taste is such an awful experience as well as not being able to smell. I hope my sense of taste and smell come back completely but as of right now its slowly coming back. Such scary experience. I did use the Ayr Saline Nasal Gel with Aloe after reading that it may help bring back my sense of smell. I'm not exactly sure if it had anything to do with it but I didn't think it would hurt to try it. Good luck to all those who read this and I hope more people realize before actually using Afrin that they are better off without it.
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1061534_tn?1276705661
Why would you conclude that the Afrin was the reason for the loss of the sense of smell?  It has already been well established that certain viruses can cause anosmia, while anosmia has not been shown to be associated with vasoconstrictors.  Viruses have a plausible mechanism of action, the vasoconstrictors do not.  Correlation does not, necessarily, equal causation.
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Avatar_f_tn
What about the documented effects of zicam that got recalled?  Couldn't this be a similar situation just with a different form of medication?
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1061534_tn?1276705661
Zicam and Afrin are completely different things.  It's a relatively new phenomenon for people to be squirting Zinc up their noses, so that's why we only recently learned of that mechanism of damage.  Zicam was commonly presented as an "all natural" remedy which should give us pause when manufacturers try to trick us into believing that "natural" somehow automatically equates to "safe" or even "effective".  Afrin and other decongestant sprays have been used for decades.  It would seem highly impropable that, even if there were a plausible mechanism of damage, that it would not have yet been discovered/documented.  But again, we know from elegant research that certain upper respiratory viruses have the capacity to damage the olfactory bulb -- the place where our noses "smell".  People tend to use decongestant sprays when they have colds, so it's easy to see, though, where the suspicions arise.
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Avatar_f_tn
I also lost my sense of smell and taste after using Afrin.  I had a terrible cold (I believe it was bronchitis) about a month ago.  I used Afrin more than was recommended because I can't stand having a stuffy nose.  One time when I used it and it burned and since then I can't smell or taste anything.  I am praying also that I get it back but it's been going on 2 weeks.  I see my doctor on Thursday so will let her know.  I'm still congested also so am hoping maybe that has something to do with it.  I did stop using the Afrin and have been using a saline rinse twice a day and also Ayr's saline gel with aloe.  Keeping my fingers crossed this is not permanent.  It's awful.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had the same problem everyone here is having.  I had a severe cold that caused major congestion so my wife suggested I use afrin.  I used afrin 2 days consecutively, it burned my nose the first time I used it but it cleared my congestion so I was happy.  The next day I couldn't smell or taste anything but attributed it to the cold.  I started feeling better but still no sense of smell or taste after a week.  I read the comments on here and used the ayr gel with aloe and a sinus bag from a company called calfragco that had eucalyptus, peppermint and lemongrass for a few days straight and my nose has been tingling and I'm starting to gain a little bit of my sense of smell back, so relieved.  Hopefully this works for you guys too
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Avatar_m_tn
I am too having the same problems since I started using the generic Walgreens version of Afrin.  Which is what brings me to this board when I googled losing taste and smell after using Afrin. I have had a bad cold, someone from work told me to try it.  I did.  Great I could breathe!  I only did one squirt per nostril 1 or 2 times a day for a couple days because NOTHING else I tried worked.

I made a nice Thanksgiving dinner, couldn't smell or taste ANY of it.  The day after I was able to smell and taste a little bit.  But even now, the 29th of Nov I am still unable to smell or taste.  I too can't smell my little girl's diaper... I can't smell garlic or a nasty strong perfume ad.  I'm scared out of my mind.

I have an appt with my Ear Nose and Throat Specialist on Friday.  :-(
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Avatar_m_tn
I am too having the same problems since I started using the generic Walgreens version of Afrin.  Which is what brings me to this board when I googled losing taste and smell after using Afrin. I have had a bad cold, someone from work told me to try it.  I did.  Great I could breathe!  I only did one squirt per nostril 1 or 2 times a day for a couple days because NOTHING else I tried worked.

I made a nice Thanksgiving dinner, couldn't smell or taste ANY of it.  The day after I was able to smell and taste a little bit.  But even now, the 29th of Nov I am still unable to smell or taste.  I too can't smell my little girl's diaper... I can't smell garlic or a nasty strong perfume ad.  I'm scared out of my mind.

I have an appt with my Ear Nose and Throat Specialist on Friday.  :-(
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Avatar_m_tn
I have also been using a store brand version of Afrin due to sinus issues. This medication seemed to be the only thing to clear them. At first the sense loss was intermittent and ranged in severity but now I my smell and taste are completely gone. I have only used this medication in accordance with it's labeling and have now discontinued it completely. Had there been a warning I probably never would have used it at all. Here's hoping I get my senses back.
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Avatar_m_tn
Dear tasteless29,

I'm sorry to hear about your loss. I sincerely hope you get it back. Go to https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/medwatch-online.htm to file a formal complaint. I have done this, and if we don't all do this, nobody will know about it. We got to make this problem known out there.

By the way, have you tried my tip of using a saline gel with aloe? I tried it for about a week and saw improvement.
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Avatar_n_tn
I was suffering from allergies and sinus congestion nearly three months ago, I began using a generic Afrin nasal spray (equate). I became in the habit of using it nearly every night before bedtime for over a month or so, disregarding the instructions. Soon after, I developed a case of pneumonia, so I assumed the lack of smell was attributed to that. However, now I still CAN NOT SMELL ANYTHING! ANYTHING!  I am almost sure that it is due to the nasal spray. I am just concerned that it is permanently damaged and may not return. After reading some of these posts, now I am even more concerned.
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Avatar_f_tn
My experiences with Afrin have been a love/hate type of thing.  I'm the opposite of a mouth breather so I am sure to always have nose spray in the rare case of a cold.  However, the older I've gotten (at the old age of 27 now, but started when I was 14) the more my taste/smell sense has gone out the window during use.  I've always figured the lack of senses was caused by the cold.  However, the last time I got sick I couldn't smell or taste for almost a month after I was back to normal.  Being sick this time, I'd rather have a stuffy nose I think.  I, too, have a child, and a nose is important to being a good mother.  I've given myself food poisoning from bad lunch meat because I had no idea it was bad.

Could it be the cold doing it?  Sure.  But it just doesn't seem likely to affect someone for this long and this many times.

But to ease a few fears...  My senses have been gone for almost a month previously, but usually at least two weeks.  They always seem to come back!  I go to Starbucks, walk in the door, and if I can finally smell the alluring scent of coffee, I'm back in business!

The taste/smell sense should come back!
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Avatar_n_tn
MEEE TOO!

I just heard of Afrin a couple of days before I went out and bought my own. I only used it once one night, my friends I know bad, and my sinus cleared up 100% so the next day, stupidly, bought the strongest one when my symptoms were not even that bad. And I didn't read the directions/label/ dosages correctly so ended up using it every day often for 2/3 weeks straight until I really realized something wrong and read label and researched.(not more than 2x a day for up to 3 days straight, I was using way too much!)
Now I can taste food slightly and only for a short while, and my sense of smell...gone. I hate it. I can't even smell what I'm cooking that is right in front of my face. Just 17 and don't want to think this is permanent! Someone please tell me if this is 100% not reversible or any smell therapy or exercises I can do to increase or improve my sense of smell/taste. I heard of smelling something strong daily for a couple of weeks as a form of therapy, not sure. ADVICE! Thanks
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm in the same boat, I used the Kroger generic of Afrin back in January and by February 1st. I lost my smell and taste. Now, not one thing taste or smells as it should. I went to my family doctor said it would come back, over three months now, went to ENT specialist, done CT scan and other test, said nothing wrong, hopes it will come back. If anyone has had any success with doctors or centers in the Atanata area please let me know. Thanks.
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Avatar_f_tn
I use afrin since a nasty infection. I use it sparingly and I smell the bad other than the good. My tastes are off too. But has anyone heard of Afrin leading to symptoms of cancer.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Hello,

I have used a generic nasal pump spray from the $1 store manufacture by "Assure" it's name is "Nasal Relief Spray" they don't type in the ingredients.  But, the active and inactive ingredients is listed.  The active ingredient is " oxymetazoline hydrochloride 0.05"

It states on the label it is not the Manufacture of Afrin.  After using it 1x a day for 2 days I have lost a sense of smell and taste.  What bothered me the most was the sense of taste.  Because, I thought I can't smell was due to the cold and it will come back usually.

I was so saddened how everyone in the home can taste and they had the same cold as I did.  But, they didn't use the spray.  I was asking everyone, can you taste the food, "no problem" with them.  But, why me, why am I missing.  So, I went online or thought to see a doctor to see if theres perhaps a medicine to recover my sense of taste.  I thought for sure there might be.  But, before I made the trip to the Dr. I came online and to my shock I found many articles and websites people claiming it was the nasal spray.  The last thing that would of came in my mind. I was very saddened and shocked and hope from all of my heart this is a temporarily thing for me.  I looked for a warning label but "no show" on the label.

Please HELP stop these makers.  Have I known one of the side effect was to lose your sense of taste and smell. I would not have put this thing up my nose.  I have sent my info to the fda.  But, it's too late now, damages have already been done and still suffering no smell and no taste. I feel like crying out loud.  In the trash it goes, I even called my mom to notify her and will warn of thers.

Pease and god bless.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am in the same boat, but all I used was a neti pot with my own solution of a pinch of sea salt and some grapefruit seed extract to help clear my sinuses due to a cold.  I failed to warm the water adequately enough to dissolve the salt, and literally burned my sinuses.  It has been a week and a half and no taste or smell at all.  I know it is because of the salt. I had a full blown reaction until I figured out what happened and rinsed with plain water 3 times. Each time I rinsed, the pain got better, so I know that is what happened, but unfortunately, this burning went on for about an hour before I rinsed it out.  I didn't realize my smell was gone until the next day when I went to eat and couldn't taste anything.
Anyway, I am not a pharmaceutical drug user, and still had this happened- it could be that the combo of the chemicals plus too much sodium could be affecting you all.  I do hope we all get our senses back.  I am a foodie and a mom, and this is devastating to me because I can not tell if my house is on fire, our food is going bad, or if my son is sick (stinky poop), etc. I totally took for granted how important smell is for safety.  Best of luck to you all.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have always had an excellent sense of smell.  I was on Afrin for about two weeks and have since lost most of my sense of smell and much of my taste.
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Avatar_m_tn
Please don't!  Years ago I teased my spouse for his
"Afrin cures it all!" approach.  When a dire cold/allergies had me at the end of my "rope", I tried it, thinking nothing was worse than my incessantly stuffed nose.

That was eons ago.  With ignorant bliss, I had bottles at home, my purse, gym locker, you name it.  This year with Florida allergy season at all time high, I realized I was grabbing the Afrin whenever I was stuffy.

I have no professional confirmation, but I'm absolutely going in right away - to an ENT.  I noticed when smells no one else could pin point became completely undetectable - to the point I could not tell if the cream, milk & worse - raw meats/cold cuts were dangerously ripe.  We joked at first, but I always took my highly acute sense of smell/taste as a special "gift" and always one step ahead of my poor family encountering fouled food and - ugh - missing previously wet, now putridly mildewed pool towels as their "mystery odors".

I am ashamed that I did not heed my college aged daughter's admonishments.

I will be heartbroken if I in fact have damaged my senses with my formerly beloved Afrin - but not as much as I miss cooking meals I can no longer judge if it is spiced properly, I miss burning cookies in the oven.....I took SO much for granted.  I'm in NO way slamming Afrin - I just want to make sure you research for yourself before you go "off label" and have it in strategic places around your home, etc.

I'll miss it - breathing after the first pump begins to do its magic, but not enough to lose my once coveted special gift of smelling things others could not - and finally stop seasoning things beyond any reasonable level.

I promise I'll check back in - and if anyone else has the data I'm desperate to learn about?  Please kindly post your experience.

Signed,
An Afrin Fan - but to what cost.....

Once teased for my uncanny sense of smell and the ability to discern
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Avatar_m_tn
I've never seen any damage from oxymetazoline use--I spray it in patient's noses on a daily basis to examine them (ENT doc).  Some viral infections cause olfactory nerve damage, but we really don't have a great understanding of the process.  I've seen several patients who have lose sense of smell after a cold.  We usually give it six months to reverse.  Sometimes we do a CT scan to rule out tumors in the olfactory region of the brain, that can lead to hyposmia.  Oxymetazoline overuse does cause rhinitis medicamentosa and it is a difficult condition to treat.  Never use  more frequently than every 12 hours and never for longer than 3 days at a time.
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Avatar_n_tn
I was prescribed afrin a couple drops a day and I didnt realize how fast the drops came out so I had alot down my nose and i havent been able to smell for 5 years now......
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Avatar_m_tn
used afrin twice a day for 3 days a year and a half ago and have had no sense of smell or taste ever since. I have read some comments and am trying the Ayr's Saline Nasal Gel with Aloe. What i dont understand is that it's not a liquid and can not get up into where the nasal spray used to go. How can that help get my sense of smell back? I am also using a saline to flush but within an hour, i am reclogged and need to use the saline again. is there any safe solution to use that lasts as long as the afrin did so i can sleep and also someday be able to smell again?
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had an awful cold for about a week now ... I just got back from the doctor and he told me to take this afrin nasal spray. I'm not big on conventional medicine but my sinus pressure was getting to me. I looked up the side effects for the spray before taking it, as I do with all medications and did not see anything about loss of smell and/or taste. Immediately after using the spray I mixed up a vitamin C packet and went to take some sudafed with it only to realize I could not smell or taste it, although my nose was clear i could taste perfectly fine before the spray.  I was sucking on a cough drop ... I spit the cough drop out to use the spray in fact ... now I cant taste the same type of cough drop at all!!! I only used one spay per nostril and this is my first (and last) time using it. I find this site also by googling "loss of smell and tastse with oxymetazoline" had I known this might have happened beforehand I never would have put this stuff in my nose!! Immediately after reading this I ran to the bathroom and rinsed out my sinuses with a saline solution praying thats its not too late ... I also plan on trying the saline with aloe thank you for the tip hopefully that and some hard praying will bring back my senses!!
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Avatar_m_tn
I have never used Afrin before however I have used Zicam and yes you will lose your sense of smell. Which stinks because its your sense of taste too. Both go hand and hand with each other. Go Figure. Best advice my EN&T specialist said. Do not use any products up your nose unless its prescribed to you or its plain old Salene. Even with Salene use it gingerly and only when needed. Even the nettt-pot advertised has caused people to lose their sense of smell. So be careful.
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Avatar_m_tn
I am a 34 yr old woman.  I use nasal spray very rarely because I have noticed in the past few years that whenever I use it, it allows me to breathe but immediately removes my sense of smell for several days after a single use.  Fortunately, I have regained the sense of smell after each illness (I'd estimate I use the spray possibly 1-3x/year, so not very often at all, and each time maybe once or twice per illness using 2 sprays per nostril.)  I used it last night because I'm in the midst of a cold but now can't smell.  I don't know why it isn't more commonly known that Afrin can have this effect.  I tend to think of Afrin as a last resort given this awful effect and my awareness of its addictive nature that can cause rebound/ongoing congestion.  To all the doctors who posted that they recommend it regularly to patients and have never had someone complain, please consider all these comments before you prescribe it again!
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a 40 y/o female. I was sick with a cold since Monday, with congestion and some headache. My husband had it exactly the same way one week ago and never lost his smell or taste by the way. I used Afrin on Wednesday March 14/2012 around 5 pm right after I bought it to breathe better. I have never used it before. I primed it first as they suggest then I instilled one spray only in each nostril. About two hours later my husband was cooking fish. I am a vegetarian. So, I usually complain about the smell. This time I couldn't smell anything. Then I cooked some rice for myself with some indian spices and saffron. I could not smell or taste anything.I blamed it on the cold, although I could remember clearly inhaling some vicks earlier that day and being able to smell all the essential oils in spite of congestion. On the morning of the march 15 I realized that my sense of smell and taste are completely gone. I actually panicked. Usually I am the first one to point out any smell at home or even at work and they joke about me sniffling everything like a dog. I called Afrin company. They told me the problem will go away probably within 48 hrs.So they knew the problem exists. On the 15 th I did a lot of inhalation but put nothing into my nose. 24 hrs later still could not smell or taste anything. On the 16th around afternoon 48 hrs later as they said I was able to smell very strong smells for a few seconds at a time by bringing them very close to my nose (cut garlic, ground orange peel), but was not able to pick any smells in the room or outside or taste anything. Today, Saturday the 17 of March 2012 I could pick up some smells like banana when I just peel it, or chocolate brownie when I bring it close to my nose. As the day went, it got even better, I could smell and taste more subtle things like honey, fresh celery, smell and taste camomile tea, regular sunflower seeds. My nose is still congested by the way, but I don't care.
I sent emails to all my contacts not to use AFRIN or any other OTC nasal sprays except saline due to that possible side effect. It is the company responsibility to mention this very important possible side effect. I will also make a complaint to FDA online.     I used only one spray in each nostril only once.  I don't know how other people who have been using it for longer periods are doing.   Good luck. Don't loose hope. I read that olfactory nerve and those cilia are able to regenerate even after a longterm abuse. Give them rest and try to avoid foods that produce more mucus:dairy, meat, sweet, refined foods.   Wish you fast healing and the return of all the lost senses.    Julia
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Avatar_m_tn
yes i live in newyork and wife suggests for me to use affrin and now i cant smell or hardly taste this has gone on for the past week and ah half why dont they put this on the box and is there any class action suit cuz by the way i see it thousands of people online are suffering from this product thats on the shelfs at our local pharmacy's
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Avatar_f_tn
I have not been able to smell or taste since June.  Two months now.  Kept thinking my smell/taste would come back, but now reading these comments I am terrified!  Why is Afrin still on the market!!!  Please everybody report to the FDA now!  This stuff needs to be pulled from the market!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1-855-543-3784
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Avatar_f_tn
I just spoke to a woman at the FDA she said EVERYBODY needs to report their Afrin issues. Please call 1-855-543-3784
It doesn't take long!
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Avatar_m_tn
I, too , lost my sense of smell after using Afrin.  After 1 and 1/2 years I decided to try acupuncture and it worked!!!  Now I'm very happy.
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Avatar_m_tn
I also have lost my sense of smelling ordinary things since using Afrin. However, I do have this sense of an overwhelming smell of "bitter chemicals."  This has been going on for about two weeks now and is driving me batty.  Help.
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Avatar_m_tn
I think everyone's reaction is different. I have used Afrin on several different occasions, never exceeding 2 days, and only once a day, two sprays per nostril. I haven't paid attention to my sense of smell, but I used it last on March 11th, and I recall smelling something a few days ago. I am not a doctor, but I take great caution when using decongestant nasal sprays as I hear they can be highly addictive. I don't know if this is true, but someone also told me that once you stop using the decongestant nasal spray after a couple/few days you will want to take a break from using it for at least three days, because you will feel stuffed up from the nasal spray. I won't resume using it until the next cold and only if I am sniffing so much I start feeling pressure in my head. I don't if this helps anyone, but I hope everyone's senses come back!
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Avatar_m_tn
I have taken 10 shots of afrin up each nostril since 2006... my whole sinus system is shot to crap... don't get the habit... trust me, loss of smell and taste is the least of your problems... it is an aweful addiction of the nasal passages... the makers should be locked in prison... and I should be whipped in the back for every taking this stuff... as I take 4 more sniffs... I just gotta have it to breathe... can anybody help me??
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Avatar_f_tn
I've had a lingering bad cold for weeks.  Doctor told me to use Afrin for congestion.  Big mistake.  I sprayed once in each nostril, 1 time a day, for 2 days and now I can't smell or taste a thing.  It's been about 48 hours since I last used it.  I'm so upset - wish I had googled it BEFORE I squirted it in my nose.  I'm going to call the doctor on Monday.  If he had at least mentioned that this might be a possible side effect, I wouldn't have ever tried it.  And why isn't there any kind of warning on the box?   This is just horrible.  I'm hoping my senses will come back but I'm in somewhat of a panic after reading everyone's comments.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I've been using Afrin for 35 years and while I know it's bad for you due to dependency issues, I don't think it has anything to do with the taste/smell issues you're all having; this us the first time I've read about other people having this issue, until now people have looked at me like I was crazy! About 5 years ago I came down with the flu, and it was pretty bad. I started Tamiflu but it was too late. My fever went up to 106!! When I was over it it took a while to feel normal again. When the fever broke I also experienced smell and taste issues. Bathroom wipes smelled like ammonia, as did shampoo and other soaps; I remember grape juice smelling/tasting like sulfur, the same for orange juice. Taste and smell are linked, so it's hard to tell which was effected more (if you hold your nose you can't experience certain tastes). It was very annoying and I was afraid the high fever had caused damage. But after a few days I woke up and I was back to normal. I never stopped using the Afrin. My opinion is that it's not the Afrin but the illness/fever that caused the problem. Although Afrin can cause vasoconstriction and therefore is bad if you have blood pressure issues, it's effects are mainly irritating to the nasal septum and wouldn't effect perception of taste and smell. That is probably a brain issue; the way your brain processes the information it gets is screwed up. So an ENT is the wrong doctor to see. I realize now how lucky I was that it got better so fast, but I would recommend that you all make an appointment with a neurologist. The common thing we all experienced was an illness if some kind, and my gut tells me that some neural pathway(s) have been effected. Keep me posted!
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Avatar_m_tn
I used Afrin one time when I had very bad cold. My sinus was stuffed and my ears were plugged. I couldn't hear very well at all for days. I got so tired of my ears. No matter what I did, they wouldn't unplug for me to hear clearly. So, I went to a local store and got Afrin after reading reviews online about it. This was back in 2009 and I sparingly used in my nasals. Ever since, I can't smell very well. Either the smell has to be very strong or I have to be very close to the source of the oder to smell anything. My smell never used to be this bad before. What's worse is that I also used this product on my 5 year old son around about the same time. It makes sense why he hardly wants to eat anything. That's because he can't smell very well just like me. I believe, they have something in the Afrin product that destroys your smelling nerves.
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Avatar_m_tn
I used Afrin one time when I had very bad cold. My sinus was stuffed and my ears were plugged. I couldn't hear very well at all for days. I got so tired of my ears. No matter what I did, they wouldn't unplug for me to hear clearly. So, I went to a local store and got Afrin after reading reviews online about it. This was back in 2009 and I sparingly used in my nasals. Ever since, I can't smell very well. Either the smell has to be very strong or I have to be very close to the source of the oder to smell anything. My smell never used to be this bad before. What's worse is that I also used this product on my 5 year old son around about the same time. It makes sense why he hardly wants to eat anything. That's because he can't smell very well just like me. I believe, they have something in the Afrin product that destroys your smelling nerves.
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Avatar_m_tn
I use Afrin once during a bad sinus infection. 2 sprays each nostril as directed, once. Only one use and I could breathe! Later that day, I realized that while I could breathe, I couldn't smell anything. Not coffee, not orange, nothing. It was extremely scary, and so I came across this page while looking for afrin and loss of smell. It isn't listed as a side effect and I would never have taken it had I known I would lose my smell. I couldn't smell a single thing for two straight days, and it drove me nuts. Nothing tasted the same and I was miserable because I love food.  I did try some saline drops with aloe on day two. Not sure if that worked or if Afrin effects finally wore off, bit I am happy to report that on day three my sense of smell did return (although so did the congestion). I will definitely take dealing with congestion over loss of smell!
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