Allergies Pollen Steroid Nasal Spray

Steroid nasal sprays are often an effective treatment option for the one out of every five people affected by seasonal allergies. Nasal steroids, when taken as prescribed by a doctor, are non-addictive and an effective treatment for the nasal symptoms of pollen-based, seasonal allergies. These medications work by preventing sinus drainage. Steroid nasal sprays may also be used to treat chronic sinusitis.

About Pollen Allergies

What are pollen allergies? Pollen allergies are caused by windborne pollens in trees, flowers, plants, grasses and weeds. Seasonal allergies, which occur at times of the year when pollen counts are highest, may cause symptoms such as:

  • congestion
  • coughing
  • runny nose
  • watery or itchy eyes.

For those that experience nasal symptoms of pollen related seasonal allergies, steroid nasal sprays may effectively alleviate symptoms.

Pros and Cons of Using Steroid Nasal Sprays

Nasal steroid sprays must be taken exactly as prescribed by your physician. If overused, the body’s adrenal glands may stop producing natural (and needed) steroids. Also, the process of tapering off from steroid nasal sprays may be lengthy with patients feeling tired, dizzy and lightheaded. Using steroid nasal sprays, and stopping usage, should be done under specific doctor’s instructions. Steroid nasal sprays, unlike over the counter nasal sprays, do not cause dependency, even with long-term use.

Nasal sprays are effective in treating nasal allergy symptoms because they treat the problem specifically in the nasal tissues. Sprays act quickly and are not slowly carried to inflamed tissues through your digestive and circulatory system like pills.

Side Effects of Steroid Nasal Sprays

Although usually mild, many side effects can occur with steroid nasal sprays. Possible side effects include:

  • burning sensation in the nose
  • cough and bronchospasm
  • dryness in the nasal mucous membranes
  • growth suppression
  • hoarseness
  • impairment of the adrenal glands
  • increased risk of chickenpox or measles
  • insomnia
  • menstrual irregularities
  • metabolic changes (causing weight gain and increased blood glucose levels)
  • mood changes
  • nosebleeds
  • osteoporosis (a disorder in which the bones lose mass and density)
  • sore throat
  • thinning of the skin and increased bruising
  • unpleasant aftertaste
  • yeast infection.

Recent research has indicated that people who use nasal steroid sprays to treat pollen allergy symptoms have an increased risk of having migraine headaches. Although a link between nasal allergies and headaches already exists, use of steroid nasal sprays may increase this risk.

If you believe you have been exposed to chicken pox or measles while using a steroid nasal spray, talk to your doctor immediately. Using steroid nasal sprays can lower your body’s resistance and may cause serious infection.

Types of Steroid Nasal Sprays

Examples of steroid nasal sprays your doctor may prescribe include:

  • Flonase
  • Nasacort AQ
  • Nasonex
  • Rhinocort Aqua

Alternative Treatments to Steroid Nasal Sprays

Allergy pills may be an effective alternative to steroid nasal sprays. Other non-medicinal options include saline nasal washes and irrigators. Talk to your doctor or allergist about other options for treatment of nasal seasonal allergy symptoms.


iVilliage. (n.d.). Steroid nasal sprays. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from the iVillage Web site

Medical News Today. (2007). Steroid nasal sprays relieve sinusitis symptoms, review finds. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from the Medical News Today Web site

Reuters Health. (2009). Nasal spray may trigger migraine. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from the Medline Plus Web site