Rhinocort (Budesonide) - Nasal

What Is Rhinocort?

Rhinocort (budesonide) is a prescription nasal spray used to relieve nasal symptoms from seasonal and year-round allergies. It is recommended for both adults and children ages 6 and older.

Rhinocort, which contains the key ingredient budesonide, is classified under the category of corticosteroids (human-made steroids used to treat inflammation). Budesonide is further identified as a glucocorticoid—a steroid hormone widely used for the treatment of inflammation, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

The spray works to reduce the amount of inflammation (swelling) inside the nose, lessening the severity of your nasal allergy symptoms.

While Rhinocort is available as a prescription nasal spray, other over-the-counter (OTC) variations exist (e.g., Rhinocort Allergy) that share the same administration route. Moreover, it is also available for purchase as a generic product (both prescription and OTC) in the form of a metered nasal spray.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Budesonide

Brand Name(s): Rhinocort, Rhinocort Allergy (OTC)

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Anti-inflammatory

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: No

Administration Route: Intranasal (into the nose)

Active Ingredient: Budesonide

Dosage Form(s): Nasal spray

What Is Rhinocort Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Rhinocort as a medication option to relieve nasal (nose) allergy symptoms, which may include:

Rhinocort may also reduce your sneezing symptoms. While it's not on the container packaging, experts also typically recommended steroid nasal sprays for many other allergy symptoms, such as itchy eyes.

In general, allergies affect millions of people in the United States on a yearly basis. Allergy symptoms happen when your body reacts to certain triggers (allergens). This may include dust mites, pet dander, and pollen.

How to Use Rhinocort

Since specific instructions may vary for different nasal spray medications, carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container.

The following, however, are some general steps on how to use a nasal spray product:

  1. To assure cleanliness, remove the protective cap and the nasal tip from the spray bottle to clean if you haven't used the nasal spray for more than 14 days. Wash and rinse the cap and nasal tip with water. Then, let air dry before reattaching everything back onto the spray bottle.
  2. To begin use, remove the protective cap that's covering the tip of the nasal spray.
  3. Gently shake your nasal spray bottle.
  4. Prime the nasal spray device by spraying the medication away from you eight times when the bottle is new. If you haven't used the nasal spray for two or more days, however, you'll only need to prime the nasal spray device until you see a fine mist.
  5. Blow your nose.
  6. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  7. Keep your head upright.
  8. Use a finger to press down on one nostril to close it.
  9. Place the tip of the nasal spray into the other opened nostril.
  10. While in your nostril, point the nasal spray tip away from the center of your nose.
  11. Press down on the pump of your nasal spray bottle and gently breathe in at the same time. Sniffing too hard may result in swallowing your nasal spray medication.
  12. Repeat steps six through 10 for the other nostril.
  13. Repeat sprays as recommended by your healthcare provider or packaging instructions.
  14. Don't blow your nose for at least 15 minutes after using Rhinocort.
  15. Use a clean tissue to wipe the nasal spray tip and cover the tip with the protective cap after each use.

Storage

When you pick Rhinocort up from the pharmacy, keep the medication between 68 to 77 degrees F. Keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet.

Avoid pouring unused and expired drugs down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired drugs. You can also find disposal boxes in your area. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the best ways to dispose of your medications.

If you plan to travel with Rhinocort, get familiar with your final destination's regulations. Checking with the U.S. embassy or consulate might be a helpful resource.

If you have a prescription from your healthcare provider for Rhinocort, make a copy of it.

Keeping Rhinocort in its original container is also a good idea. If there's a pharmacy label with your name on the original packaging, keep it on there.

If you have any questions about traveling with your medicine, ask your healthcare provider.

Off-Label Uses

You may see healthcare providers prescribe Rhinocort for chronic (long-term) rhinosinusitis. Rhinosinusitis is a condition of swollen sinuses around your nose.

In fact, experts support the use of nasal steroids for chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (noncancerous growths) or without nasal polyps.

How Long Does Rhinocort Take to Work?

You might start to feel better within 10 hours of using Rhinocort. Symptom improvement, however, typically happens one to two days after using Rhinocort—with maximum effectiveness at roughly two weeks.

What Are the Side Effects of Rhinocort?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects with Rhinocort may include:

Severe Side Effects

Get medical help right away if you experience the following serious side effects:

  • Severe allergic reaction: If you experience a severe allergic reaction to Rhinocort, symptoms may include itchiness, swelling, and breathing difficulties.
  • Adrenal insufficiency: Adrenal insufficiency is sometimes known as Addison's disease. People with this medical condition don't make enough of certain hormones, such as cortisol. Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency may include dizziness, tiredness, weakness, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Eye-related effects: Rhinocort may raise your risk of glaucoma (high eye pressure) or cataracts (cloudy eyesight).
  • Infections: Rhinocort may suppress your immune system. This may raise the likelihood of infections.
  • Nose-related effects: While a nosebleed is a common side effect, it may become excessive and severe. Other nose-related effects may also include Candida fungal infections or difficult-to-heal wounds. Some people might also experience a hole in the wall between their nostrils.
  • Slow growth in children: Rhinocort might slow down the growth rate of children. To limit this side effect, use the lowest effective dose for your child.

Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening.

Long-Term Side Effects

Potential long-term side effects of Rhinocort may include:

  • Adrenal insufficiency (low amounts of certain hormones—like cortisol)
  • Eye problems
  • Slow growth rate in children

Report Side Effects

Rhinocort may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program online or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Rhinocort Should I Take?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For nasal dosage form (spray):
    • For treatment of allergic rhinitis:
      • Adults, teenagers, and children 12 years of age and older—At first, one spray in each nostril once a day. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 4 sprays in each nostril per day.
      • Children 6 to 11 years of age—At first, one spray in each nostril once a day. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 2 sprays in each nostril per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

The following modifications (changes) should be kept in mind when using Rhinocort:

Severe allergic reaction: Avoid using Rhinocort if you have a known allergy to it or any of its ingredients. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

Pregnancy: In rat and rabbit animal studies, budesonide was found to have negative effects on the fetus. Compared to humans, rodents tend to experience more negative effects from steroids.

In humans, chances are small that Rhinocort will negatively affect the unborn fetus. Rhinocort, however, should be used only if the pregnant parent needs the medication.

There is a risk of newborns experiencing adrenal insufficiency, which is sometimes known as Addison's disease. Newborns with this medical condition don't make enough of certain hormones, such as cortisol. Your healthcare provider will monitor for this.

Discuss with your healthcare provider if you plan to become pregnant or are pregnant. They will help you weigh the benefits and risks of Rhinocort during your pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: While inhaled budesonide is present in human breastmilk, the amount is small. For this reason, the risk of exposing the nursing infant to this medication is minimal. In fact, experts support the use of inhaled or nasal steroids while breastfeeding.

You can further reduce the chances of budesonide reaching your baby, however, by using Rhinocort right after breastfeeding. This will likely increase the time between using Rhinocort and nursing your baby.

Talk with your healthcare provider if you plan to breastfeed. They will help you weigh the benefits and risks of Rhinocort while nursing. They can also discuss the different ways available to feed your baby.

Older adults over 65: There were no differences in response to Rhinocort between older and younger adults. Older adults, however, tend to have more nosebleeds.

In general, older adults with several medical conditions or who are taking several medications should use caution. Older adults might be more sensitive to side effects from medications.

Children: The FDA approved Rhinocort for people 6 and older. Long-term use of Rhinocort, however, may result in a slow growth rate in children. If your child is needing to use Rhinocort for over two months, contact your child's healthcare provider.

Liver problems: Individuals with liver problems may not be able to clear the medication from their bodies as easily. This means the medicine stays in the body longer and can have increased side effects. For this reason, if you have liver impairment, your healthcare provider will closely monitor you for side effects.

Missed Dose

If you accidentally forgot your Rhinocort dose, use your nasal spray as soon as you remember. If it's already close to your next scheduled dose, then skip the missed dose and use your nasal spray at your next scheduled dosing time. Don't try to double up to make up for the missed dose.

Find ways to help yourself remember to keep your appointments and take your medication routinely.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Rhinocort?

There is limited information available about Rhinocort overdoses. While an overdose with Rhinocort nasal spray is unlikely, too much Rhinocort may result in adrenal insufficiency.

Adrenal insufficiency is sometimes known as Addison's disease. People with adrenal insufficiency don't make enough of certain hormones, such as cortisol. Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency may include dizziness, tiredness, weakness, nausea, and vomiting.

If you think that you're experiencing an overdose or life-threatening symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

What Happens If I Overdose on Rhinocort?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Rhinocort, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Rhinocort, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it.

If you or your child feel that your symptoms do not improve within a few days or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This medicine may increase your risk of having some unwanted effects in the nose. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have bloody mucus; sores inside the nose; unexplained nosebleeds; or a whistling sound when you breathe while you are using this medicine.

This medicine may cause thrush (a type of fungus infection) in the nose or throat. Tell your doctor right away if you or your child have white patches in the throat, or pain when you eat or swallow.

This medicine may cause a serious type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you or your child have a rash; itching; hoarseness; trouble breathing; trouble swallowing; or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.

You may get infections more easily while you are using this medicine. Avoid close contact with anyone who has chickenpox or measles if you have never had these infections. This is especially important for children. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have been exposed to chickenpox or measles.

Using too much of this medicine or using it for a long time may increase your risk of having adrenal gland problems. Talk to your doctor if you or your child have more than one of these symptoms while you are using this medicine: darkening of the skin; diarrhea; dizziness; fainting; loss of appetite; mental depression; nausea; skin rash; unusual tiredness or weakness; or weight loss.

This medicine may slow down a child's growth if it is used for a long time. Talk to your child's doctor if you think your child is not growing properly or if you have any questions about this.

Check with your doctor right away if blurred vision, difficulty in reading, or any other change in vision occurs during or after treatment. Your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Use Rhinocort?

Before using Rhinocort, talk with your healthcare provider if any of the following applies to you:

Severe allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergic reaction to Rhinocort or any of its components (ingredients), it isn't a viable option for you.

Pregnancy: In humans, chances are small that Rhinocort will negatively affect the unborn fetus. Rhinocort, however, should be used only if the pregnant parent needs the medication. There is a risk of newborns experiencing adrenal insufficiency, which is sometimes known as Addison's disease.

Newborns with this medical condition don't make enough of certain hormones, such as cortisol. Your healthcare provider will monitor for this. Discuss with your healthcare provider to weigh the benefits and risks of Rhinocort during your pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: While inhaled budesonide is present in human breastmilk, the amount is small. For this reason, the risk of exposing the nursing infant to this medication is minimal. In fact, experts support the use of inhaled or nasal steroids while breastfeeding.

You can further reduce the chances of budesonide reaching your baby, however, by using Rhinocort right after breastfeeding. This will likely increase the time between using Rhinocort and nursing your baby.

Talk with your healthcare provider to help you weigh the benefits and risks of Rhinocort while nursing.

Older adults over 65: There were no differences in response to Rhinocort between older and younger adults. Older adults, however, tend to have more nosebleeds. In general, older adults should use caution.

Children: The FDA approved Rhinocort for people 6 and older. Long-term use of Rhinocort, however, may result in a slow growth rate in children. If your child is needing to use Rhinocort for over two months, contact your child's healthcare provider.

What Other Medications Interact With Rhinocort?

In general, use caution when using Rhinocort (budesonide) with CYP3A4-inhibiting medications.

CYP3A4 is a protein in the liver that's responsible for breaking down medications, such as budesonide. So, medications that inhibit CYP3A4 may prevent it from working as well. This may lead to higher levels of budesonide in the body and higher chances of side effects.

Examples of CYP3A4-inhibiting medications may include ketoconazole antifungal and clarithromycin antibiotics.

For more detailed information about medication interactions with Rhinocort, talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

Also talk with your healthcare provider about any other medicines you take or plan to take, including OTC, nonprescription products, vitamins, herbs, or plant-based medicines.

What Medications Are Similar?

There are numerous steroid nasal sprays, including Rhinocort. Some are prescriptions, and others are OTC products. In general, experts recommend steroid nasal sprays as the go-to choice for relieving allergy symptoms.

Rhinocort is an OTC option, and other OTC steroid nasal sprays include:

  • Flonase Allergy Relief (fluticasone)
  • Flonase Sensimist (fluticasone)
  • Nasacort Allergy 24HR (triamcinolone)
  • Nasonex 24HR Allergy (mometasone)

All OTC nasal sprays can be used for allergy symptoms in people 2 and older—except for Flonase Allergy Relief and Rhinocort. Flonase Allergy Relief is for people 4 and older, and Rhinocort is for people 6 and older.

Prescription nasal steroid sprays may include:

  • Beconase AQ (beclomethasone)
  • Flunisolide
  • Omnaris (ciclesonide)
  • Zetonna (ciclesonide)
  • Xhance (fluticasone)

In general, the FDA also approved all prescription nasal sprays for allergies in people 6 and older, except for Zetonna and Xhance. Zetonna is used for allergies in people 12 and older, and Xhance is actually used to treat nasal polyps in adults.

Since all of these medications are steroid nasal sprays, they're not typically used together.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is Rhinocort available?

    Rhinocort is available as a prescription product. You'll likely find Rhinocort at your local retail pharmacy. Other brand/generic products containing budesonide are available OTC or through a prescription.

  • How much does Rhinocort cost?

    Rhinocort itself is available as a prescription product. If you prefer an OTC steroid nasal spray for insurance coverage, work with your pharmacist and healthcare provider. They can help you decide what other potential budesonide-based medications may be helpful to treat your symptoms.

  • What if Rhinocort doesn't work for me?

    If Rhinocort isn't improving your allergy symptoms within two weeks, adding on another medication might help. For example, some people may find more allergy relief by adding on an antihistamine nasal spray.

    Another potential option is to switch to a combination nasal spray that contains a steroid and antihistamine. Talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider about your symptoms.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Using Rhinocort?

Allergy season can be a miserable time for many people. Using Rhinocort or taking other allergy-relieving medications may help. If you have allergy symptoms, avoiding exposure to triggers may also help. For example, avoid contact with pets if you're allergic to pet dander.

You can also wear a mask or sunglasses outdoors to limit your exposure to allergens.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.