The mainstay of treatment for allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is nasal steroids. It is important to note that these are not like body-building, or anabolic, steroids. This type of steroids helps to control inflammation, in this case in the nose. For those with other than very mild and intermittent symptoms, nasal steroids are very helpful. There are two types of nasal steroids, aqueous or wet, and powder or dry.
Nasal steroids take at least several days to become fully effective, so they should be used on a daily basis for the best relief of symptoms. In those with only seasonal allergies, nasal steroids should be started a week or two before the anticipated start of pollen season. For those with perennial, or year-round allergies, nasal steroids should be used year-round. Nasal steroids are also used for nonallergic rhinitis and nasal polyps, and they can help decrease the frequency of sinus infection.
Nasal steroids should be sprayed in the nose and pointed away from the septum, or midline of the nose. Your provider should educate you on proper technique. Potential side effects include dryness, burning, stinging and nosebleeds. If you experience these potential side effects, your doctor may prescribe an alternative nasal steroid for you.