Nasal corticosteroid sprays help to shrink nasal tissue swelling over time. However nasal corticosteroids do not reach the inside of the sinus cavities. These sprays also keep drainage pathways open. They can relieve sinus inflammation caused by allergies, decrease nonallergic inflammation and shrink nasal polyps. Nasal corticosteroids have also been shown to decrease the severity and duration of acute sinusitis.
Nasal corticosteroids are most effective if they are used on a daily basis. Unlike decongestant nasal sprays, nasal corticosteroids are not addictive and do not cause a rebound effect. They can be applied to the nose through sprays, aerosols by nasal nebulizers, or by nasal drops.
There is some concern about the use of nasal corticosteroids in children. Physicians and parents are concerned about growth suppression. This concern is mostly focused on the long term regular use of nasal corticosteroids, frequent repeated short term use of oral corticosteroids, or persistent use of high dose inhaled corticosteroids for asthma. Fortunately very little corticosteroid is absorbed into the bloodstream from the majority of nasal corticosteroid sprays. Corticosteroid effects can be further minimized by using brands that permit only low absorption into the bloodstream and/or have been shown through studies not to affect growth. Children using any form of corticosteroids should have their height tracked using a stadiometer. Long term height assessments can then be used to assess whether growth suppression is an issue before it becomes a significant problem.