There is increasing evidence that supports the use of nasal steroids for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Nasal steroids contain corticosteroids, a hormone that is produced naturally by the body. Corticosteroids work by reducing the inflammation, mucous and swelling in the nose and sinuses caused by allergies. Nasal steroids provide relatively quick relief of allergy symptoms (symptoms should start to improve within 24 hours of administration), but complete relief from the symptoms can take up to two weeks.
Nasal steroids are topical medicines, meaning they're applied to the skin. They're also administered in small doses, with absorption through the skin being even smaller. Almost 100 percent of the nasal steroid is absorbed in the nose and sinuses, with insignificant and minute amounts being absorbed into the rest of the body. As a result, they don't contain the same dangers or bad reputations as other steroids. The small dosage also means that these steroids can be taken over extended periods of time; some people have even used them for five to ten years with minimal or no side effects. However, some side effects that may result from extended use of nasal steroids include nose bleeds, sore throat or cough; any side effects beyond this list require medical attention.
Nasal steroids differ in absorption, potency, age at which the spray can be used, convenience of dosing, addictives, tastes, and costs, with newer products being more likely to have higher potency levels, lower absorption levels and improved safety for children. Nasal steroids are considered safer to use than nasal sprays. Nasal sprays, which contain decongestants, are addictive and provide quick but temporary relief from nasal congestion, and they are known to raise blood pressure.