Side Effects of Nasal Steroid Spray

A number of steroid nasal sprays are available by prescription, including fluticasone propionate, beclomethasone dipropionate monohydrate, mometasone furoate monohydrate, triamcinolone acetonide, flunisolide, budesonide and fluticasone furoate 2. While according to the Mayo Clinic steroid nasal sprays are safe for long-term use and do not cause the rebound effect of other nasal decongestant sprays, they may still cause bothersome side effects for some people.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

General Side Effects

According to the Mayo Clinic, all steroid nasal sprays can cause side effects. Irritation, itching, burning or dryness inside the nose or throat may commonly occur. Headaches, sneezing, runny nose, upset stomach or nosebleeds are also possible. According to RX List, other symptoms reported in more than three percent of clinical trial participants include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • lightheadedness
  • tearing eyes
  • nasal stuffiness
  • cough
  • aftertaste
  • asthma symptoms
  • throat inflammation
  • viral or upper respiratory tract infection
  • dysmenorrhea (severe uterine pain during menstruation)

Serious Side Effects

Allergic reactions have also been reported, including symptoms such as:

  • unexplained rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • swelling
  • angioedema (swelling under the skin)
  • anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction affecting the whole body)

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care.

Adrenal Suppression and Hypercorticism

Some research suggests that prolonged or excessive use of certain intranasal steroids can interfere with the functioning of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce important hormones (cortisol) that are vital to regulating the body’s stress response, sexual function, metabolism, balance of salt and water and blood glucose levels. According to RX List, certain steroid nasal sprays such as:

  • weight gain in the upper back
  • abdomen
  • face
  • neck 2

A review published in a 2009 issue of “Neuroimmunomodulation” finds one study of confirmed adrenal suppression among adults treated with budesonide or fluticasone propionate, and another study showing decreased cortisol in urine output among adults taking beclomethasone dipropionate 12. Studies of fluticasone furoate and of budesonide or fluticasone propionate in children show no significant adrenal effects 2. The study concludes that there is no evidence to suggest doctors need to routinely monitor healthy children treated with steroid nasal sprays. Adults who use intranasal corticosteroids long-term should consult with their doctors to determine whether adrenal testing is indicated.

The Wrap Up

According to RX List, certain steroid nasal sprays such as budesonide, flunisolide and fluticasone furoate carry some risk of causing adrenal suppression and slowed growth or hypercorticism (increased production of cortisol), which can cause Cushing's disease-like symptoms such as weight gain in the upper back, abdomen, face and neck 2. During clinical trials of triamcinolone acetonide, one patient reported nasal septum perforation (a hole in the septum or inner wall of the nose), according to RX List. All steroid nasal sprays can suppress the functioning of the immune system, increasing the likelihood of developing other infections, according to RX List.