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Steroid Concoction May Ease Sinusitis

Small study finds benefits, but drug does not have FDA approval for such use

MONDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- A steroid nasal wash can help reduce symptoms of chronic sinusitis without affecting adrenal gland function, according to a small U.S. study.

Chronic sinusitis is a persistent inflammation of the nose and sinuses behind the nose that affects up to 14 percent of people in the United States, according to background information in the study.

The study included nine people who were told to use a nasal wash, composed of 0.25 milligrams of the corticosteroid budesonide and 5 milliliters of saline, in each nostril once a day for 30 days. The budesonide came in respules -- small, plastic, liquid-containing devices.

The researchers, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said it was the first study to examine the safety of this type of nasal wash, noting that suppression of adrenal gland function is a known complication of budesonide.

All participants reported at least some improvement in their sinusitis symptoms, and their adrenal gland function was not affected, the study found. The results were published in the March issue of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

"The clinical significance of this study is that budesonide nasal respules appear safe for short-term use for the relief of symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis," the researchers concluded. "Budesonide respules seem to provide an effective treatment option for the patient with chronic rhinosinusitis with minimal fear of systemic adverse effects."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved budesonide as a nasal wash, which means the nasal wash used in this study would be an off-label use of the drug. The researchers urged doctors to warn patients about the risks associated with long-term use of budesonide, including decreased bone mineral density.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about sinusitis.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, March 16, 2009

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