Prednisone for Sinus Infection: Does It Work?
Published Oct 12, 2020
A sinus infection, commonly known as sinusitis, is when your sinuses get infected, causing them to become swollen or inflamed. These are mainly due to bacterial, fungal, or viral infection, as in the common cold. Sinuses are the hollow parts or cavities within your skull, which are found behind the nose, forehead, and cheeks. These cavities are lined with a protective layer of mucus, meant to fight against external irritants like dust.
When your sinuses get inflamed, this can cause an excessive amount of mucus to build-up within your cavities. In turn, this causes pain and discomfort, making your head feel extremely stuffy and heavy. Sinusitis is quite a common condition in the US, with about 30 million people being diagnosed with it each year. Prednisone is a prescription steroid intended to reduce inflammation within the body. As sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, does prednisone work in treating it? Let’s find out.
Does prednisone work for sinus infections?
There are many oral steroids out there in the market. The most commonly used group is called glucocorticoids, of which prednisone is one. These oral steroids are the oldest and most widely used group of anti-inflammatory medication. Accordingly, they’re known to be very effective in treating chronic airway inflammatory conditions.
Prednisone comes as an immediate-release and a delayed-release tablet, as well as a liquid solution. According to Medical News Today, this drug targets or treats the following conditions:
- endocrine disorders such as adrenal insufficiency or congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- eye inflammation
- eye ulcer
- lung diseases such as sarcoidosis or aspiration pneumonia
- lupus and nephrotic syndrome
- multiple sclerosis exacerbations
- optic neuritis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
- symptoms of lymphoma or leukemia
Prednisone works by weakening the immune system. In doing so, this blocks chemicals from attacking the infection, which is the body’s natural immune response. Consequently, this blockage reduces the inflammation normally experienced with the infection.
The consensus on oral steroid treatment is divided. While some argue that these can prove beneficial for conditions like sinusitis, other research studies would claim they’re ineffective. One particular research paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) studied systemic steroid treatment effects on acute rhinosinusitis patients. In their study, the researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine this type of treatment on the patients.
Researchers conducted the study by dividing the group into the placebo group and the prednisolone group (highly similar to prednisone). Their findings showed that systemic steroid therapy showed no clinically relevant beneficial effects on the patients.
However, some would argue that a brief course of prednisone has been shown to provide immediate comfort and relief. Steroids reportedly boost energy levels, reduce pain, and reduce swelling. With this divided consensus, your safest bet would be to consult with your physician to come up with the best solution to your sinusitis. Additionally, when you use steroids, you may also run into a whole host of risks.
Risks of systemic steroids
You must be extremely careful when using systemic steroids. While some of the most effective anti-inflammatory drugs out there, they can suppress the normal steroid levels in the body. This can result in the following side effects:
Additionally, taking systemic steroids for a longer-term may result in even worse side effects, such as:
- high blood sugar
- reduced ability to fight infections
- suppressed adrenal gland hormone production
- easy bruising
Thankfully, when taken responsibly in the short-term, these steroids won’t cause most of the adverse effects listed above. If you’ve consulted with your doctor, and they deem it best for you to use this medication, it’s because they have gathered enough information to prescribe them to you. Another alternative to prednisone and other related systemic steroids is topical steroids, which significantly reduces the risk of running into the unwanted side effects above.
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