The main role of corticosteroid medications is to control inflammation. Steroid medications are chemically similar to many of your body’s naturally produced hormones. These medications work by mimicking the cortisone and hydrocortisone steroids that are made by the adrenal gland. When you take these medications, you are exceeding the natural levels of steroids found in your body. This extra boost of steroids in the body helps prevent and suppress inflammation.
The decision as to whether to place a patient on topical nasal steroid sprays only or to add oral steroids depends on the severity of the inflammation. I typically prescribe nasal steroid sprays to my patients who have an inflammatory response within the nose and/or sinuses. I prescribe oral steroids when I believe that the inflammation in the sinuses is more than that which can be handled by topical steroids alone. If you suffer from nasal polyps and/or asthma and your sinuses are flaring, you are a good candidate for oral steroids because they will reduce the severe inflammation that causes these conditions. Treatment will not cure these problems but will bring them under control. Last, I may prescribe pulmonary steroid sprays to control asthma or asthmatic bronchitis. I usually place my patients on a low, short-term dose. I place those who are badly infected on higher dose courses for 15-30 days.
Typically, oral steroids will bring about a much greater decrease in the swelling in the nose and sinuses. In addition, it will control lower respiratory complaints such as inflammation related to asthma or bronchitis and will decrease any other inflammation in your body. Many of my patients who take steroids for their sinuses often comment that the steroids made their achy bones feel better as well.