Allergic rhinitis is considered one of the most common ailments in Singapore. A study has suggested that approximately 30% of Singaporeans experience some form of allergy.
This condition involves a type of inflammation in the nose which happens when the immune system overreacts to allergens in the air (talk about being overly sensitive).
A 23-year-old lady asked a question on DxD's question and answer platform. She wanted to find out if using a nasal spray over a long period of time will result in negative side effects.
Dr Seah Heap Yong, an experienced general practitioner shared his advice. Here’s what he had to say.
Nasal steroid sprays are commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis
There are many ways to treat allergic rhinitis. From Amy's description, Dr Seah infered that she was prescribed with a nasal steroid spray.
They are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat allergic rhinitis.
"What! My doctor is giving me steroids?"
Dr Seah persuades us to not be be alarmed by the word steroid. According to him, nasal steroid sprays are largely safe when administered as instructed.
The spray helps to reduce swelling and mucus in the nasal passageway. This eases symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, sneezing, itching, and so on.
And no, you won't get addicted to nasal steroids since they’re safe for long-term administration.
It takes time to feel better when using a nasal steroid spray
While nasal steriod sprays are effective, they are very slow acting. Thus, you'll only feel better after you use it for an extended a period of time. Typically, you will have to use it on a daily basis for 2 - 4 weeks.
Constant advice from your GP is necessary for successful results with the nasal spray
After some weeks of consistent use, your doctor will usually begin to tail down your nasal steroid dosage. This is why it's crucial to continue following up with your doctor as he or she will have the next plan of action you should take.
If you stop the nasal spray abruptly, allergic symptoms can return.
So, are there even any side effects at all?
Yes, it's possible. According to Dr Seah, a common side effect of the steroid spray is nose bleeding.
If you’ve just begun using the spray and your nose starts to bleed from time to time, it's best to inform your GP straight away. He or she may want to lower the dosage, switch the brand or stop completely.
However, there is a type of spray that can create over-dependency
Dr Seah alerts us to another product called the nasal decongestant spray. This type of spray rpovides rapid relief, but there's a catch. Your body do get dependant on this spray, and after prolonged use, you will realise you need a higher and higher dosage to achieve the same effect.
If you are using this type of nasal spray, make sure you stop after roughly 1 week of use in order to prevent dependence. Nasal sprays like Afrin, Nazolin and Kotrin belong to this class.
Nasal steroid sprays are safe for long-term use
The most important thing you need to remember: nasal steroids are usually safe for long term use.
However, should you feel concerned for any reason at all, make sure you check with your GP! He/she would be able to advise you on adjusting your dosage once your allergic rhinitis symptoms are improving.
This article is medically reviewed by Dr Seah Heap Yong.
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