Allergies Home > Using Topical Nasal Steroids for Allergies

Topical Nasal Steroids as an Allergy Medicine

You should not confuse topical nasal steroids with anabolic steroids, which athletes sometimes use to enlarge muscle mass and which can have serious side effects. The chemicals in nasal steroids are different from those in anabolic steroids.
 
The topical nasal steroids used for allergy relief are anti-inflammatory medicines that stop the allergic reaction. In addition to other helpful actions, they decrease the number of mast cells in the nose and reduce nasal swelling and the secretion of mucus. The combination of antihistamines and nasal steroids is an effective way to treat allergic rhinitis (sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy and/or runny nose), especially if you have moderate or severe allergic rhinitis.
 
Although these allergy medicines can have side effects, they are safe when used at recommended doses and can significantly reduce allergy symptoms. Nasal steroids are taken as a nasal spray, and in some studies, have been shown to be a more effective allergy treatment than antihistamines. However, when combined with antihistamines, these medicines may provide even better relief than when used alone.
 
Nasal steroids used to manage allergies include:
 
 
These medicines differ in how often they are used and their cost, but they are generally equally effective in treating symptoms.
 
The drawback to these allergy medications is that they may take a week or so to be maximally effective and can sting and even damage the nasal septum (the soft bony division in the middle of the nose) if the spray is directed at it. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any bloody discharge while using these sprays.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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