Nasonex spray, the medicine with the famous Nasonex bee sometimes voiced by Antonio Banderas, is an inhaled nasal steroid medicine. Is it effective? What are its side effects? Here’s my story:
Unlike most people who have tried Nasonex inhaled steroid spray, I was not taking this medicine for any of the reasons lumped under “allergies.” I have a systemic inflammatory disease. This means just about anything and everything in this body of mine can, for a variety of reasons, become inflamed at one time or another.
So it was that I went through a period where my sinuses became highly inflamed. Regardless of what’s causing the sinusitis—whether it’s pollen, pet dander, dust mites, nasal sinus disease, infection associated with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and the list goes on—inflammation hurts. Badly. Eventually I decided I needed a little extra help with the face pain.
My doctor suggested Nasonex. The idea was to use this medicine to reduce nasal and sinus inflammation. This would reduce the swelling and, most importantly, the resultant pain (read: PAIN). My friendly physician bundled me out the door with a prescription for Nasonex and a sackful of Nasonex “professional samples” to get me started right away.
(I’m sorry: every time I get handed a bunch of pharmaceutical samples, I wonder just a teeny bit if my accepting them is helping the doctor earn points for his next trip to Hawaii [Exhibit “A”]. Anyway, I digress.)
How did this plan to eradicate face pain with Nasonex work out for me? Hint: For this review, I just took a photo of one of the stray unopened Nasonex samples I found still in my bathroom drawer. The other bottles went in the trash long ago.
It is not that Nasonex didn’t deliver on reducing the inflammation, and, consequently, the pain, in my nose and sinuses. It did. It’s just that, as an inhaled nasal steroid, I found the side effects of Nasonex spray simply unacceptable. And that’s saying a lot coming from a person in severe pain.
I have used many steroids over the years, unfortunately, and I know their “evil twins” very well. Yes, steroids can be true miracle drugs, even life-savers. But steroids also can make you feel highly wacked out on almost every relevant emotional and psychological scale. And steroids can make you feel as though you are going to die. Or have a heart attack. Or implode. The heart and mind racing and palpitations, the anxiety and weird jitters, the sleeplessness: in my view, this is nothing to sign up for if you don’t absolutely have to.
We used to say: How do we know Mom is on prednisone? She’s up vigorously mopping the already-spotless kitchen floor. At 2:00 a.m.
My doctor’s view, when we discussed my side-effect experience with Nasonex spray later, was the standard line that “inhaled nasal steroids don’t have a systemic effect.” In other words, the professional thinking is that the medicine only effects the nose and sinuses; it doesn’t go—it cannot go, despite the fact that it just did—into the bloodstream in concentrations high enough to cause side effects similar to oral or injected steroids.
I agree that using Nasonex spray inhaled steroid was not similar to taking a load of intravenus Decadron. Okay, I admit I’m being a bit cheeky here. But my point remains. If inhaled nasal steroids have the same side effects as other steroids in some people, it is what it is! End of story.
Like most medicines, steroids—whether inhaled, injected, infused or swallowed—have benefits and drawbacks. While, on one level, it makes sense that Nasonex spray would have only a local effect on the body, the reality is that that logic does not hold true in every situation. Since my experience with the side effects of the inhaled steroid in Nasonex spray, I found that I was not alone in this reaction. According to the Ask a Patient Data Base, I’d say it’s not uncommon at all for people using Nasonex spray to notice steroid-induced side effects.
The best advice, I think, regarding Nasonex spray or any other steroid is exactly what the Mayo Clinic says: balance the benefits and the risks.
“Nasonex: Inhaled Nasal Steroids,” Nasonex.
Kate Pickert, “Do Consumers Understand Drug Ads?,” Time.
Denise Mann Kleinman, “Suspect CVID if Lupus Patients Have Recurrent Sinus Infections,” Musculoskeletal Report.
“Is Your Doctor Tied to Drug Makers?,” New York Times.
“Nasonex: Data Base,” Ask A Patient.
“Prednisone and other Cortiocsteroids: Balance the Benefits and Risks,” Mayo Clinic.