"I would become claustrophobic if I thought, 'Oh my god, I don't have it on me,' " the Will & Grace actor said

By Julie Mazziotta
July 06, 2021 05:34 PM
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Eric McCormack
Eric McCormack
| Credit: Vivien Killilea/Getty

Eric McCormack thinks he may have a "psychosomatic" dependance on nasal sprays after years of needing to carry one with him in stressful situations.

The Will & Grace actor, 58, explained on his former costar Sean Hayes' podcast Hypochondiractor that it likely all started when he was a child and watched his dad constantly use nasal spray.

"My father had a lot of allergies. He was allergic to everything. Dogs and cats and pretty much anything he didn't want us to have, suddenly he had an allergy to. And he would always use nasal spray. And I think I inherited this from him," McCormack said, before joking to Hayes and his co-host Dr. Priyanka Wali, "Not the actual bottle. It would have run out some time ago."

McCormack said that after years of watching his dad "rely" on nasal spray, he developed his own "reliance" to having it on hand.

"I couldn't get on a plane without knowing that I had the nasal spray in my pocket," he said. "I couldn't even go on stage. I don't think I did an episode of Will & Grace where I didn't [have it]. And I didn't need it. It wasn't like I was stuffed up. I just thought the only way I'm going to be able to really breathe is if I give myself a little squirt in each nostril."

"It feels like it's almost like something you touch on the way out, like an OCD thing, like a ritual," he continued. "The difference is in a plane I would become claustrophobic if I thought, 'Oh my god, I don't have it on me. What if I can't breathe?' "

McCormack said that he "got into the habit" of using nasal spray even when he wasn't feeling stuffy.  

"I got to the point where I wasn't sure if it was the over usage of the product that was bizarrely stuffing me up and making more of it," he said.

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Wali said that it's very possible that overusing the nasal spray is actually creating nasal problems.

"These medicines, they only give temporary relief. And if you actually use them too much, it can actually cause a rebound nasal congestion," she explained. "So the nasal congestion is just going to come back and it might even come back worse."

Wali, an internal medicine physician, said that McCormack's reliance on nasal sprays could be his method of self-soothing.

"You're kind of creating your own way of meditating by doing these rituals," she said. "But you were literally getting more air into your lungs which is very similar when people smoke, sometimes it's just the act of the inhalation that has more of a kind of calming effect on the nervous system than the actual nicotine itself."

McCormack said that he has "wanted to stop" using the nasal sprays and found that the last year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when he was flying less and not doing as much acting, actually helped him "not have a need for it."

"I haven't thought of it in a while," he said. "It's almost out of sight out of mind."