The treatment of allergic rhinitis has been revolutionized by the introduction of topical nasal steroids, which are one of the commonest prescriptions from otolaryngology departments. With so many different sprays available on the market, the literature was reviewed for the efficacy, side-effect profile and relative cost of each product and the following conclusions made:
(1) A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing the efficacy of intranasal corticosteroids and oral antihistamines in the treatment of allergic rhinitis showed a clear benefit in favour of intranasal steroids in relieving nasal symptoms.
(2) There is no clear evidence to support the suggestion that one steroid spray is more effective than another in the treatment of seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis.
(3) All the sprays have a similar side-effect profile; the commonest being epistaxis with a reported incidence between 17 and 23 per cent. In all the clinical trials, the placebo spray had an appreciable rate of epistaxis of between 10 to 15 per cent.
(4) Fluticasone causes a reduction in endogenous cortisol secretion but no significant adrenal suppression was seen with triamcinolone, beclomethasone, budesonide or mometasone.
(5) There is little evidence that skeletal growth is restricted by the administration of topical nasal steroid sprays.
(6) There is considerable variation in the daily cost of each spray. Beclomethasone, dexamethasone and budesonide are significantly cheaper than fluticasone, mometasone or triamcinolone.