What is Nasal Steroid Spray?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A nasal steroid spray is a medication which is used to manage issues such as allergies, nasal inflammation, and nasal polyps with steroids which are sprayed directly into the nose. The dosage is generally low, and using a nasal steroid spray is not dangerous, although there may be some cases in which it is not advised or is actively contraindicated. As always when a new medication is prescribed, it is advisable to get information about how the medication should be used, why it is being prescribed, and what kind of side effects to expect.

Parents should ask a doctor about the possible side effects children may have when taking steroidal nasal sprays.
Parents should ask a doctor about the possible side effects children may have when taking steroidal nasal sprays.

Nasal steroid sprays deliver steroids directly to the mucus membranes of the nose in the form of a spray which emerges from a nozzle when the patient pushes a button. The membranes of the nose readily absorb the steroids, allowing a small dose to be delivered because the bulk of the drug which reach the intended area. Some examples of nasal steroid sprays include Flonase, Rhinocort, and Nasacort.

Nasal steroid spray may be prescribed to manage seasonal allergies.
Nasal steroid spray may be prescribed to manage seasonal allergies.

A doctor may prescribe a nasal steroid spray when a patient has an issue such as chronic sinusitis, emerging nasal polyps, nasal inflammation, seasonal allergies, or excessive mucus production. It can take as long as two weeks for the effects of the medication to be observed. A doctor will usually give directions about how many times a day to use the spray, and how long the spray should be used. The doctor may also request a follow up appointment to examine the patient in order to determine whether or not the nasal steroid spray is effective.

Nasal steroid sprays can help improve quality of life for those who cannot avoid seasonal allergens.
Nasal steroid sprays can help improve quality of life for those who cannot avoid seasonal allergens.

Using a spray can be an alternative to surgery, leading some doctors to try it before recommending surgical procedures to address issues like sinusitis and polyps. The spray can also help patients feel more comfortable during allergy season, and may be useful in managing seasonal allergies as a result.

Nasal steroid spray appears to be safe for pregnant women with nasal issues.
Nasal steroid spray appears to be safe for pregnant women with nasal issues.

The use of nasal steroid spray in pregnant women appears to be safe, and is actually safer than oral or inhaled steroids because of the lower dosages, although it is a good idea to discuss potential risks with a doctor before using the medication. Some steroids may be expressed in breastmilk, however, so breastfeeding women should consult their doctors before using a nasal steroid spray. In young children, steroids can interfere with growth and development, and a nasal steroid spray may not be recommended unless it is absolutely needed, and being used for a short period of time.

Some nasal steroid sprays may cause dizziness as a side effect.
Some nasal steroid sprays may cause dizziness as a side effect.
Steroidal nasal sprays tend to be more effective than antihistamines.
Steroidal nasal sprays tend to be more effective than antihistamines.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

yumdelish

@angelBraids - I'm almost certain that you can't do that. If you really have no time to get medical advice you could always buy an allergy spray.

Steroidal nasal sprays tend to work better when your nose isn't either very blocked or running anyhow. If things don't improve after a few days using that you should try to get checked over. You could have some kind of nasal infection.

angelBraids

I seem to have a blocked nose for one week out of three and would like to try this kind of treatment.

I'm really busy right now and finding time to go to the doctor would be a challenge. Is it possible to buy an over the counter nasal steroid spray?

Valencia

If you are a first time user of a steroid nose spray make sure you read the instructions carefully. Unfortunately I didn't, and instead of breathing in gently as I sprayed, I sniffed hard.

I nearly choked on the liquid which went into my throat, so I learned the hard way!

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