Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Cold & flu health centre

Steroid nasal sprays

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Using a nasal spray, either on its own or with antibiotics, can probably help to improve your symptoms.[21] The full name for the drugs used in these sprays is corticosteroids. These steroids are not the same as the anabolic steroids used by some bodybuilders. You can buy some steroid nasal sprays over the counter at the pharmacy. For others you'll need a prescription from your doctor. There are several different steroid sprays. Some common ones (with their brand names) are beclometasone (Beconase), budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua), flunisolide (Syntaris), and fluticasone (Flixonase). You breathe these sprays in through your nose once or twice a day.

There has been a large study with 981 people comparing a nasal steroid spray with a dummy spray containing no medicine (a placebo).[22] The people who used the steroid spray for 15 days had much improved symptoms compared with people who used the dummy spray. About one-third of the people in this study got side effects, whether they used the steroid nasal spray or the dummy spray. The most common problems were headache and nosebleeds.[22]

However, another good-quality study of 240 people didn't find any difference in the number of people who still had symptoms after 10 days between those who used a steroid spray and those who used a placebo spray.[23]



A placebo is a 'pretend' or dummy treatment that contains no active substances. A placebo is often given to half the people taking part in medical research trials, for comparison with the 'real' treatment. It is made to look and taste identical to the drug treatment being tested, so that people in the studies do not know if they are getting the placebo or the 'real' treatment. Researchers often talk about the 'placebo effect'. This is where patients feel better after having a placebo treatment because they expect to feel better. Tests may indicate that they actually are better. In the same way, people can also get side effects after having a placebo treatment. Drug treatments can also have a 'placebo effect'. This is why, to get a true picture of how well a drug works, it is important to compare it against a placebo treatment.

For more terms related to Sinusitis


For references related to Sinusitis click here.
Last Updated: June 21, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Preventing cold and flu viruses

Preventing cold and flu viruses

Learn how to prevent viruses like colds and flu through rest, healthy foods and exercise.

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
woman holding hair
Natural help for dry or damaged hair
woman in bikini
Get ready for swimsuit season
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
Immune-boosting foods
The role of diet
18 secrets men want you to know
boy looking at broccoli
Quick tips for feeding picky eaters
hamburger and fries
A guide for beginners
salmon dinner
A diet to boost your mood & energy
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting