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Steroid Nasal Sprays Show Small Benefit for Sinusitis: Study
Date:5/15/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Corticosteroid nasal sprays apparently are not a silver bullet when it comes to symptom relief for acute sinusitis patients, a new review suggests.

The British analysis of six prior studies found that the sprays confer only a small degree of benefit, and only after being taken for three weeks at relatively high doses.

The disappointing observation comes amid growing public health concerns that the more common use of antibiotics for short-term sinusitis symptoms is both ineffective and potentially dangerous because the drugs contribute to bacterial resistance.

"Looking at all the trials together, we found that nasal steroids seem to give a small benefit for patients with acute sinusitis," said study co-author Matthew Thompson, a senior clinical scientist in the department of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, in England. "In fact, they work about as well as antibiotics do."

"When we compared patients who were given steroid nasal spray with those who were given an [inactive] spray, we found that patients given the steroid spray got better faster," he added. "However, although we see this effect after taking the spray for 14 days, the big difference only occurs at 21 days. We also found that a larger dose of the nasal steroids worked better than a lower dose."

Thompson and his colleagues discuss their observations in the May/June issue of the journal Annals of Family Medicine.

Although chronic sinusitis cases (driven by fungal exposure, bacterial infection, or anatomical complications such as polyps or a deviated nasal septum) can endure well beyond the three-month mark, short-term (acute) sinusitis typically lasts just a few weeks.

Thompson pointed out, however, that such acute cases (typified by cold-like symptoms such as a congested or runny nose, accompanied by face pain) send about 31 mil
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