Steroid nasal sprays

Steroid nasal sprays (also called corticosteroid nasal sprays) are anti-inflammatory medicines you spray into your nose.

Some are available at pharmacies. Others are only on prescription.

These steroids are different from the anabolic steroids.

Anabolic steroids are sometimes prescribed by healthcare professionals. They can also be misused by people to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance.

Read the patient information leaflet that came with the steroid nasal spay you were prescribed. It will have specific advice about your medicine.

Types of steroid nasal sprays

Examples of steroid nasal sprays include:

  • beclometasone
  • budesonide
  • fluticasone
  • mometasone

Uses of steroid nasal sprays

When sprayed into the nose, steroids reduce inflammation (swelling).

Steroid nasal sprays are used treat problems such as:

Get help for a serious allergic reaction

Immediate action required: Go to an emergency department (ED) or phone your GP if you get:

  • a rash
  • swelling of the mouth or face
  • difficulty breathing

These are signs of an allergic reaction. Stop taking your steroid nasal spray straight away.

Check if you can use steroid nasal sprays

Most people can use steroid nasal sprays.

Immediate action required: Do not use steroid nasal sprays if you:

  • have had an allergic reaction to steroids in the past
  • recently had surgery on your nose

Ask your pharmacist or GP if you:

  • have tuberculosis (TB) or an infection in your nose
  • are taking or recently took other steroids
  • want a nasal spray for your child - some are not suitable for children
  • are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant

Tell your GP about risks of infections

You are more likely to get infections when you're taking any steroid medicines.

Tell your GP if you're exposed to infectious illnesses like chickenpox or shingles.

Steroids makes you more likely to catch infections such as:

Tuberculosis (TB) may also recur.

Keep away from people with an infectious disease, especially chickenpox or shingles. If you have never had these illnesses, they could make you very ill.

Food and alcohol

While using a steroid nasal spray you can usually drink alcohol and should be able to eat most foods.

How and when to use steroid nasal sprays

The leaflet that comes with your spray will explain how to use it and how often. Talk to your pharmacist or GP if you're not sure.

If you miss a dose

Take your missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it's nearly time for the next dose. In this case, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as normal.

Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.

If you often forget doses, it may help to set a reminder alarm.

If you take too much

Talk to your GP, nurse or pharmacist if you're worried you've taken too much.

Using a steroid nasal spray too much over a long time can make you more likely to get side effects and may affect some of your hormones. In children, this may affect growth and development.

Stopping treatment

If you bought a steroid nasal spray from a pharmacy, stop using it as soon as your symptoms are under control.

Do not use it continuously for more than a month without speaking to your GP.

If you're taking a prescription spray, do not stop using it unless advised to by your GP. You may need to reduce your dose gradually.

This can help avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as:

Side effects of steroid nasal sprays

Side effects of steroid nasal sprays can include:

  • a stinging or burning sensation in the nose
  • dryness and crustiness in the nose
  • dry, irritated throat
  • unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • itchiness, redness and swelling in the nose
  • nosebleeds

Interactions with other medicines

Some medicines can interfere with the way steroid nasal sprays work. This is uncommon if you're taking low doses for a short period.

Tell a GP or pharmacist if you take any other medicines, herbal remedies or supplements.

Finding your patient information leaflet online

Your patient information leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet that comes in the package of your medicine. 

Information:

To find your PIL online, visit the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) website

  1. In the ‘Find a medicine’ search box, enter the brand name of your medicine. A list of matching medicines appears.
  2. To the right of your medicine, select ‘PIL’. A PDF of the PIL opens in a new window. 

You can also:

  1. Select the brand name of your medicine.
  2. Scroll down to the Documents section.
  3. From the Package Leaflet line, select PDF version. A PDF of the PIL opens in a new window. 

If your PIL is not on the HPRA website, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website opens in a new window when you select ‘PIL’.

You can find your PIL on the EMA website.

Finding your PIL on the EMA website

If your PIL is not on the HPRA website, you will be sent to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website.

To find your PIL on the EMA website:

  1. In the Medicines search box, enter the brand name of your medicine and the word ‘epar’. For example: ‘Zoely epar’. A list of matching medicines appears.
  2. Select the ‘Human medicine European public assessment report (EPAR)’ for your medicine
  3. From the table of contents, select Product information.
  4. Select the EPAR – Product Information link for your medicine. A PDF opens in a new window. The PIL information is in Annex III of the PDF under ‘labelling and package leaflet’

This content was fact checked by a pharmacist, a GP, the National Medication Safety Programme (Safermeds) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 24 September 2021
Next review due: 24 September 2024

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