What Are Nasal and Oral Corticosteroids for Allergies
Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of their age or status in life. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the country, and more than 50 million Americans experience different types of allergies every year.
Allergies happen when your immune system reacts to allergens or foreign substances that can trigger immune responses if you eat them, inhale them, inject them, or even touch them. Reactions can vary depending on the severity of the allergy, but the most typical ones can cause the following:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Scratchy throat
In more extreme cases, allergies can cause hives, rashes, sinus infections, asthma attacks, troubled nasal breathing, low blood pressure, and even death. When you experience severe reactions, it’s best to contact your doctor to get immediate treatment. For immediate assistance in life-threatening cases, call 911.
If you’re in the Scottsdale or Fountain Hills area of Arizona, you may contact the Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center for expert advice on how best to treat and manage your allergies.
Parts of the body typically affected by allergies include the nose, eyes, sinuses, throat, lungs, chest, stomach, bowel, and skin. While there is still no known cure for allergies, there are several ways you can manage them with treatment and prevention methods. One of the most effective methods is using corticosteroids.
What Are Corticosteroids?
When an allergic reaction happens, the body releases histamine, which results in inflammation such as redness and swelling. Corticosteroids are a form of steroid used to treat inflammation in the body resulting from allergies. While this is a steroid type, corticosteroids are not the same as anabolic steroids, which is a type of drug more commonly used by athletes or bodybuilders.
Depending on how bad the allergy is, we can treat allergic reactions with corticosteroids for short or long-term relief. The duration of time a patient should use corticosteroids can be determined by a healthcare provider from the Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center.
There are different ways doctors typically prescribe this medication: a topical cream or ointment can be applied directly onto the skin, a liquid through a nasal spray, a lung inhaler for Asthma patients, an injection into the body and an oral pill/liquid form that you swallow.
What Are Nasal Corticosteroids?
Nasal corticosteroids sprays may share some similarities with regular nasal sprays that relieve cold symptoms, though they’re not entirely alike.
Though we administer both regular nasal spray (such as saline) and nasal corticosteroids in the same way, nasal corticosteroids have no addictive properties and relieve congestion by reducing the inflammation inside the nose. To fully experience the benefits of corticosteroids, you may need to use them regularly for about two or three weeks or as prescribed by your healthcare provider before you feel any improvement in your symptoms.
Depending on your condition, your healthcare provider may recommend a daily schedule that you should adhere to, as well as the required number of sprays for each nostril. Nasal corticosteroids rarely induce side effects, but they can sometimes cause nasal dryness, nose bleeds and minor irritation to the nose and throat or dryness.
However, if you experience any major side effects, it’s best to contact a Scottsdale ENT doctor from the Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center for expert advice on how to deal with the issue.
Major side effects can include:
- Headaches or dizziness
- Eye pain or vision changes
- Breathing difficulties
- Swelling on the face
- Sores or nose bleeds
What Are Oral Corticosteroids?
Oral corticosteroids have a similar effect as nasal corticosteroids, except the former is taken in pill or liquid form.
Another difference between the two is that oral corticosteroids don’t just reduce inflammation in one specific area, but the entire body, and they’re generally more potent than nasal corticosteroids. That’s why healthcare providers typically prescribe oral corticosteroids for short-term use to lessen the risk of possible side effects.
More often than not, we use oral corticosteroids to treat asthma attacks that don’t respond to regular asthma medicine or acute asthma flare-ups that cause swelling and inflammation in the airways.
Because it’s a stronger type of corticosteroid compared to the nasal form, oral corticosteroids may cause some complications, such as:
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleep disturbances
- Vision changes or hallucinations
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Decreased immunity
- Appetite changes
- Water retention
- Blood sugar elevations
- Joint pain or problems
- Muscle weakness
Special Considerations for Taking Nasal and Oral Corticosteroids for Allergies
Just like with any other medicine, people who may be more at risk of experiencing adverse side effects from taking nasal and oral corticosteroids for allergies must take special care, especially if it’s for long-term use. If you fall under the following categories, be sure to consult a doctor from the Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center:
- Children: Oral corticosteroids may cause stunted growth and measles or chickenpox in children, which may be more severe than others in the same demographic who may not be taking this type of medication. Nasal steroids are generally thought as being very well tolerated and safe in the pediatric age groups.
- Older adults: Seniors may develop issues with osteoporosis (more typical in women) and high blood pressure.
- Breastfeeding mothers: Growth issues or other development issues may affect the baby if the mother takes oral corticosteroids.
Talk To Your Doctor
Taking nasal and oral corticosteroids for allergies can ease inflammation typically experienced by those having allergic reactions. Depending on the severity of your allergic reaction or overall condition, your healthcare provider may prescribe nasal or oral corticosteroids either for long or short-term use. Make sure that your health care provider knows what steroids (and all medications) you or your family members are taking, how often and how much. Since nasal steroids are now over-the-counter, if you are using the medication too much, then unexpected problems could occur.
Thousands of Arizona residents have trusted Dr. Gergits to find relief from their allergy symptoms because of his extensive experience. He is board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery/Facial Plastic Surgery/Otolaryngic Allergy. He’s also a Fellow of the American Osteopathic College of Otolaryngology. Kate Falvey, DNP is also experienced in the field and is passionate about finding their patients relief. During your first appointment, they will perform a thorough examination and extensive testing to understand what is causing your problems and will provide a unique treatment for lasting relief!
As with any other type of medication, avoid self-diagnosing and consult with a professional ENT doctor. If you live in Scottsdale or Fountain Hills, Arizona, you may contact the Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center via our website or call 480-493-4941 for more information on how to treat your allergy.