Corticosteroids may be applied directly onto the
mucous membranes (topically) as a nasal spray or taken
by mouth (orally). Oral corticosteroids are used only rarely to treat
How It Works
Corticosteroids are a group of medicines
that reduce or prevent
inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes by altering
the actions of various cells of the
Why It Is Used
Corticosteroids are not often used to
sinusitis. But when you have acute sinusitis (symptoms
for less than 4 weeks), corticosteroids might be tried for a short time if you
- Tried other treatment but it has not
- Polyps within your nose.
- Severe swelling within
the nose (mucous membrane).
Corticosteroids may be used to treat chronic sinusitis
(symptoms have lasted 8 weeks or longer) that is complicated by
allergies or by growths in the mucous membrane (nasal
How Well It Works
Corticosteroids are likely to reduce
symptoms of sinusitis.2 Corticosteroids are generally
effective in reducing swelling, and they probably help sinusitis by reducing
swelling of the mucous membranes. They may also reduce the size of nasal
Corticosteroid treatment cannot cure viral or bacterial
sinusitis, but it can relieve the symptoms.
Side effects of corticosteroid nasal
sprays are rare and minimal, even after long periods of continuous use. The
most common complaint is a burning sensation in the nose right after the spray
is used. You may experience an unpleasant aftertaste or some dryness in the
nasal mucous membranes. Nosebleeds occur in some people using the nasal
Rare side effects of nasal corticosteroids include:
- Sores in the nose.
- A hole
(perforation) that forms in the wall between the nostrils (septum).
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Nasal sprays containing
corticosteroids cause few side effects and do not lead to swelling of the
membrane that lines the nose and sinuses when you stop taking them (rebound congestion). Rebound congestion is a serious
side effect of nonprescription decongestant nasal sprays.
nasal spraysand washes may help clear up a stuffy nose. Both are available at pharmacies without a prescription. A
humidifier may also help thick or dried mucus to drain.
Corticosteroids are not the kind of steroids used for muscle building.
People do not "bulk up" when using corticosteroids.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (2005). The diagnosis and management of sinusitis: A practice parameter update. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 116(6 Suppl): S13-S47.
Ah-See, K (2008). Sinusitis (acute), search date
August 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence.
Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.