Side Effects From Nasal Steroids

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While the word "steroid" may sound alarming, don't worry; nasal steroids are different from those used in bodybuilding. However, it is important for anyone taking these medications to be aware of them.

Possible Side Effects

Nasal steroids may have a small effect on a child’s vertical growth, although studies seem to show mixed results on this subject. If nasal steroids do in fact affect a child’s growth, it is likely that this effect is very small and only transient, meaning that the child would still likely attain their original expected adult height.

There does seem to be some increased risk for cataracts and glaucoma in people who are using nasal steroids, particularly in those people with a family history of these diseases, or who are otherwise prone to these diseases. It is recommended that these people undergo routine annual eye exams by a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist.

The majority of side effects from topical steroids occur within the nose at the site of local application. These side effects commonly include nasal irritation and nose bleeds. Should these symptoms occur, a person should stop using the nasal steroid for a few days and then re-start the medication using the appropriate technique. If bleeding and irritation continue to occur, the nasal steroid should not be used any longer. A person who continues to use a nasal steroid despite these local side effects is at risk for septal perforation.

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  • Schleimer RP, Spahn JD, Covar R, Szefler SJ. Glucocorticoids. In: Adkinson NF, Yunginger JW, Busse WW, et al, eds. Middleton’s Allergy Principles and Practice. 6th edition. Philadelphia: Mosby Publishing; 2003:870-914.