Nasal corticosteroids, or nasal steroid sprays, are one of the most effective medicines used to treat allergic and non-allergic rhinitis, as well as nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis. They are designed to reduce inflammation in the mucosal lining of the nose. Nasal corticosteroids work by turning off the production of mediators that cause inflammation, swelling, and mucous production. When taken regularly as a preventative, they can even decrease nasal “hyper- reactivity”, or the tendency for the nose to react upon exposure to allergens or non-allergic irritants.
Because nasal steroids are preventative, or prophylactic, they should be taken daily and over long periods of time, exactly as prescribed by your physician. Most nasal corticosteroids are dosed once daily. Patients can usually expect to see results from nasal coritcosteroids within one to two weeks.
Nasal steroids are considered very safe, even for long term use. Chronic use of the recommended doses of nasal steroids rarely causes systemic symptoms. However, the occasional nose bleed is not uncommon, particularly when the relative humidity is very low. This is most common in the winter months when the heat is on. The likelihood of such nose bleeds can be reduced by directing the nasal inhaler nosepiece toward the lateral (outside) walls of the nose and away from the nasal septum (the cartilage dividing the nostrils).
Your allergist will periodically examine the nasal cavity of individuals on long-term nasal steroids looking for the very uncommon complication of mucosal ulceration.
Nasal Steroids are not related to performance enhancing medications (anabolic steroids) sometimes used by athletes or body builders.