'Big Bang Theory' Star Kaley Cuoco Admits to Nasal Spray Addiction

By Paul Gaita 01/22/15

The actress surprised fans with her admission on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Kaley Cuoco

In a surprising admission on The Ellen Degeneres Show, actress Kaley Cuoco stated that the reason she had recent surgery was to repair damage done to her sinuses by a long-running addiction to over-the-counter nasal spray.

The star of The Big Bang Theory underwent sinus surgery in December 2014, which immediately generated a tidal wave of rumors that stated that the operation was actually a nose job. Cuoco denied the claims, and ultimately laid them to rest by admitting to her addiction to host Ellen Degeneres.

“I was actually really addicted to nose spray. Like, Afrin. Like, for years,” she said in the interview. “At award shows, I would have to pick out the right clutch so I could fit my Afrin in, and I’d be under the table snorting it. I’m surprised there are no photos.

Cuoco added that the nose spray eventually did permanent damage to her sinuses, which required the recent surgery. Addiction to over-the-counter nasal sprays is actually quite common, especially during the winter months when more people are suffering from cold-related congestion.

“The problem with these sprays is that they work on receptors in the blood vessels of the nose, shrinking vessels to decrease swelling and clear the nose quickly,” said Madeleine Schaberg, M.D., an ear, nose and throat specialist at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. “If you use a spray for more than five days or so, these receptors become used to the spray and it will have the opposite effect; you get rebound swelling, which will block up the nose again as blood vessels expand.”

The return of swelling will generate unconscious increased use of the spray in hopes that it will relieve the feeling of congestion. Physician-prescribed medications like oral steroids or antihistamines will alleviate the symptoms without the addictive side effects.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.