How Do Steroids Help Allergies?

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One in every five people in the U.S. suffers from hay fever. For some, steroid medications don't just make life easier; they are lifesaving and are normally prescribed to be used as needed. They are also prescribed after a life-threatening health scare, such as an anaphylactic reaction.

Allergies
Allergies (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Types Of Steroid Medications

There are several types of steroid medications, including but not limited to Prednisone, Nasacort, Nasonex, Flonase, AeroBid, Pulmicort and Beclovent. A few of them also come in cream form, such as Elocon and Diprolene.

Prescription
Prescription (Image: Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images)

Benefits For Allergy

Food and environmental allergies are both immune system responses, one to food and the other to pollens, dust and mold spores. Steroid medications suppress the immune system response, therefore minimizing inflammation, pain and discomfort.

Pollen
Pollen (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Side Effects

Side effects of steroids can include weight gain, fluid retention, mood swings, increased risk of infection, suppressed adrenal gland hormone production and increased blood pressure. It is highly recommended that people on corticosteroids stay away from those with contagious infections.

Feet on scale
Feet on scale (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Treatment Time

Some corticosteroids may only be prescribed for a few days, while inhalers can be prescribed and used as needed, usually on a daily basis. Treatment times vary depending on each patient's circumstance and should be only determined by a doctor.

Inhaler
Inhaler (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Quick Fact

Since corticosteroids lower the body's immunity to infection, people on steroid therapy cannot be vaccinated for smallpox or the flu, and immunization shots are also not recommended.

Flu vaccine
Flu vaccine (Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

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