Flonase nasal spray has become a very popular allergy treatment.

Corticosteroids (cortisone-like drugs such as prednisone) are very effective at easing irritation and inflammation in the upper respiratory tract (nose and lungs).

The problem with oral steroids, however, is that they come with a long list of side effects if they are used on a regular basis (cataracts, glaucoma, fluid retention, high blood pressure, muscle weakness,
weakened bones, peptic ulcer, mood swings, etc.)

Ingredients in nasal sprays, however, are less likely to be absorbed into the body and cause such serious adverse reactions.

Flonase is prescribed for allergic symptoms such as runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing, nasal itching, and congestion.

Side Effects and Interactions

Nasal irritation and burning may sometimes accompany the use of Flonase. Other side effects may include sneezing, sore throat, nosebleeds, runny nose, nasal congestion, sinusitis, nasal dryness, or unpleasant taste. Headache, dizziness, itching, wheezing, skin rash, and nausea have also been reported.

In rare cases patients using corticosteroid nasal sprays have noted ulceration of the nasal tissues and perforation of the septum (the cartilage between the nostrils).

Cataracts and glaucoma are quite uncommon but may represent signs of systemic absorption.

Prolonged use at higher than recommended doses can increase the risk of such side effects. Report any symptoms to your physician promptly.

Special Precautions

Corticosteroid sprays are not supposed to be readily absorbed into the body. Nevertheless, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (July 3, 1997) revealed that when asthma patients inhaled beclomethasone (found in Vanceril and Beclovent) for long periods of time, they experienced a substantial increase in cataract formation. An article in JAMA (March 5, 1997) noted that high doses of inhaled steroids (taken for more than three months) increased the risk for glaucoma. This suggests that at least for corticosteroid asthma inhalers there is absorption of the drug into the body.

Although Flonase is very effective for relieving nasal allergy symptoms, care must be taken not to overuse this spray.

Exceeding the recommended dose could lead to systemic absorption and side effects such as cataracts, glaucoma, reduced growth in children, fluid retention, acne, menstrual changes, enlarged face, and suppression of the body’s natural cortisol production.

People exposed to chicken pox or measles should contact a physician immediately. If the immune system is impaired (through excess corticosteroid exposure) these infections could become very serious. Anyone with TB, herpes infection of the eye, or an untreated bacterial, fungal, or viral infection should probably not use any corticosteroid nasal spray unless specifically told to do so by a physician.

If someone uses corticosteroid nasal sprays for prolonged periods of time (more than several months) he should be seen by a physician so an examination of the nasal mucosa can be carried out.

There have been rare cases of nasal septum perforation (a hole between the two nostrils) when such products are used for a long time.

Cases of yeast infections (Candida albicans) can occur with repeated use of any corticosteroid spray. If such an infection arises in the nose it will likely require suspension of Flonase and appropriate antifungal therapy.

If symptoms persist or someone experiences nasal irritation or breathing problems such as wheezing, a physician should be notified promptly. In rare cases pressure within the eye has increased after exposure to nasal steroid sprays.

People with a risk of glaucoma should be periodically checked by an ophthalmologist.

A woman who may become pregnant should talk with a physician before using any corticosteroid nasal spray.

Taking the Medicine

The initial dose of Flonase is two sprays in each nostril once daily.

An alternate dosing schedule may be one spray in each nostril twice daily (e.g., once in the morning and once in the evening).

After symptom relief has been achieved (usually within a week or less) it may be possible to maintain adequate benefit from Flonase with just one spray in each nostril once daily.

Never exceed two sprays in each nostril per day.
Steroid nasal sprays do not relive symptoms immediately. It may take several days of regular use to experience benefit.

If symptom relief is not noted within a week a physician should be consulted.

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  1. Lana

    Two days ago, I took one dose (2 sprays in each nostril) of Flonase, and then stopped. I found out the drug was a corticosteriod, and wanted no part of it. However, today I discovered I have almost no sense of smell. This is after only one dose. After reading all these comments where others have lost their sense of smell, I noted several people asked if the condition was permanent. No one has responded to their questions. Now I’m adding mine: Is it permanent?

  2. Mimi

    I started taking Flonase a couple of weeks ago when an ENT doctor recommended it to help with a eustachian tube blockage. I am not sure if it has helped this problem, but I have realized that I am losing my sense of taste. I have decided to stop using the Flonase and hope that my sense of taste will return.

  3. Bet

    Took for about one week. Had all the s/e listed. Severe vomiting but no nose bleeds yet. Stopped immediately after reading these posts. Usually google all scripts before filling them and sometimes I don’t fill them at all. This one was over the counter so I assumed it was safer. Poor judgement on my part. One major problem I have that no one has mentioned is extremely stiff calves making it extremely difficult to walk or climb stairs. Anyone else having this problem? Thanks for any response.

  4. Matt M.
    SLC, UT

    I am happy and sad to hear that other people have been experiencing these same side effects. I was prescribed Fluticasone about two weeks ago to address some coughing that we believe was due to some allergy. It did address the cough but I have developed blurry vision, trouble breathing, and a general sense of anxiety. I would much rather be dealing with the mild cough that what I am going through right now. I am setting up an appointment to see my doctor to report these issues. I will let you know how long it takes for the symptoms to subside.

  5. jeremy

    I took flonase a few times through out 10 years, to this day I’m still wondering what I was suppose to notice. I’m not one that cares to put anything up his nose unless its once in a while to clear the air ways. i’ve also read about oral steroids and how they have a long list of side effects, these side effects isn’t something that will be there for months to years because you are only taking them for a short while. another problem is they been trying to make better steroids with less side effects which does not work for me, and then there are the nonsteriodal pain killer that supposedly don’t have all these nasty side effects. now to the point, when they start altering drugs because of natural nasty side effects to get something with minimal side effects you start getting far more dangerous things that can happen, nabumetone… Nabumetone can increase your risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases such as strokes and myocardial infarctions, which can lead to death without warning. i’d rather suffer the prednisone side effects for a little while or the side effects of hydrocodone. i had refused flonase and nabumetone once i had learned the damages they will cause, nabumetone has an unbelievable list of things that can go wrong as well as flonase has a nice list of things that can go wrong. its best to get the salt solution nose spray from your drug store it works just as well. no one knows your body and what works best for it then you do.

  6. Reejay

    Prescribed Flonase for an ear infection. This stuff is a nightmare. Noticed a dark spot in my vision that turned out to be a cotton wool spot which is an ischemia in the retina. Cotton wool spots are common in people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and AIDS, all of which I did not have.

    After two eye angiograms there was no eye disease found and when asking my Retina specialist if the Flonase caused me to have high blood pressure and in turn could that have caused the cotton wool spot, he said it was a more rare side effect, but yes it could. I was also waking up with my heart racing. I’ve never had breathing problems or allergies but discovered that my sinuses where closing up when I layed down. This wasn’t immediately obvious because there was no mucus.

    After I had a CT scan of my sinuses, I was diagnosed with turbinate hypertrophy. I only took Flonase three days and was left with turbinate hypertrophy, permanent damage to my retina in my dominant eye, floaters, and visual snow. Please look for alternative medicine. I wish I could go back in time and never have taken this and let my ear heal on its own.

  7. Gail

    I had tooth extracted and was on augmentin. I took Flonase too. I now have yeast infection more in the rectal area and a bad taste. In kith. Dry mouth. Can it be from the Flonase? I’m using anti fungal cream on that area and took one diflucan for vaginal yeast which I’m not sure I had. Help. I have to be on Flonase for 30 days

  8. Jan
    bay area

    Ok, now I am scared. I have been on Flonase for about 13 years. Without it I get sinus infections. I do use about 3-4 puffs in each side, because my sinuses are always clogged, but I am supposed to only use 1 puff daily.. Next week I am having my second endoscopic sinus surgery. My vision is dropping, I have floaters, mood swings, etc., just like all of you. I wonder just how much damage I have done to myself. I was also told by Doctors that this was something I could use the rest of my life without any problems…

  9. ES

    Two and a half years ago I was prescribed fluticasone for a severe sinus infection. After three days of use my sense of smell was completely gone, though oddly me sense of taste was intact. I ceased use of the drug immediately.
    Gradually my sense of smell began to return, though it was a slow – and weird – process. Certain aspects of a smell might come through; for example, a skunk could be in the neighborhood, and I could smell some components of the odor but not all. Another example, I began to be able to tell that something was cooking, but could not tell what it was.
    Smells would also occasionally get ‘stuck’. I’d get a whiff of something, and then I’d smell it all day long. Often it was a false odor int he first place, as if my olfactory nerve was firing at random.
    Now, 2.5 years later, I estimate my sense of smell at perhaps 70% (it’s a remarkably hard thing to gauge). Some things I simply cannot smell, such as natural gas from the stove, others come through faintly, or I get only part of the smell. There are few things that I can smell fully.

  10. Claudia

    Does anyone know of any natural alternatives?

  11. SAB

    I hope that you are feeling better. This sounds like the same thing that has happened to me.

  12. SAB

    I have noticed unusual symptoms with using Flonase. Headache mainly and a sense of panic and anxiety. It hasn’t helped my congestion so I am going to stop using it and especially so after reading this site. I have also noticed difficulty breathing with this medicine.

  13. HB

    I was taking Fluticasone for about 3 years and it did help relieve the inflammation I have. When I picked up my prescription for the first time I remember the pharmacist telling me that I could use this every day for the rest of my life and not have any problems. Therefor, I used it without reading up on it…big mistake. I started experiencing a very dry throat. So bad that I would choke on my words as I was talking. At night I wake up about every hour and have to drink water or else I just cough and cough. I stopped taking the med when I noticed all of this but it has been about 9 months and I still have these symptoms…more so in colder air. I am hoping this will go away. Has anyone experienced this? I am wondering if I should sue the pharmacist or Fluticasone? I am not one to do that normally but this is effecting my every day life terribly. I can’t sleep so it causes all the problems that are associated with a lack of sleep. Would love some feedback.

  14. NDB

    Hello again. I left a post a few months ago about losing my sense of smell and taste due to using fluticasone. I was very worried that I would never taste my favorite foods and drinks again. I am very happy to say that after a few months (what felt like a lifetime) I am starting to taste things again.
    It started out with very strong foods such as very spicy/hot foods or very sweet foods, then moved to bitter foods and then salty foods. I am not 100% yet but I am so thankful to be where I am now. I would imagine that I only have a few months to go before I am back to “normal”. Everyone out there in my shoes I can only say “be patient”. ” it will happen.” Best of luck to those out there at their wits ends, hang in there please!

  15. GM

    I have lost my sense of smell and taste as well. Just started looking into it. I will stop using it now. Does anybody know if this is a permanent situation?

    • Jane
      New York

      Thanks for your report. I’ll definitely stay away from Flonase. The insert in the box does say that “taste alteration” is a “rare” side effect. Not going to take the chance.

  16. MS

    I too am hyper sensitive to steroids. It has caused high blood pressure that was so extreme, I stayed over night in the hospital. I have tons of eye floaters and the Opthomologist said my floaters are not caused by an eye problem. It also made me want to jump out of my skin for weeks after I quit using it.
    I am healthier but I cannot take prednisone, Advair etc, they are all steroids. Doctors sometimes don’t recognize a sensitivity to medication and give too high a dose. Sorry for your problems. I hate my eye floaters and flashes of light which is usually old age but mine started after Flonase.

  17. R.O.

    You are correct, in everything that you have said! I wish that, you could have gone into detail ….about the side effects that, you have had to deal with.

  18. Cathy W.

    My doctor prescribed Flonase to me five months ago. I have been having various medical problems that I now believe are related to taking the steroid. I’ve had weird infections that my doctor never said could be caused by a suppressed immune system by taking this medicine. I have been having mood swings that was affecting my work and my doctor put me on anti-depression medication never indicating that a steroid might cause this symptom.
    Last week I had eye pressure then my eye went foggy, blurry, and I had bright flashes with black spider webs to look through. I went to an Ophthalmologist who said the vitreous (jell) had pulled away from the retina. Many problems with my eye now and my other eye has started hurting. My Ophthalmologist said there is nothing I can do except no heavy lifting, jumping or exercise. Surgery for eye repair may be in my future.
    I have thrown my Flonase away and I’m sorry I ever decided to use it. All of these problem started after starting this medicine. No doctor has said Flonase is the cause but I’m discontinuing use and hope for healing.

  19. TLR

    I began using Flonase 2/25/14 and saw an eye doc for a yearly exam on 2/28/14. I was told I have enlarged optic nerves. Anyone had experience with that after starting flonase? I see a lot of glaucoma and cataract stuff but wondered if anyone had heard of this? I’ve been seeing floaters as well. No history of diabetes here. I’ve had lots of headaches which I never have. Had a CT scan of the sinuses showing chronic sinusitis of the Maxillary sinuses and the thought was the inflammation caused pressure which caused headaches but the ENT wasn’t sold on that. Going to see a Neurologist in two weeks. Just wanted to write in and see if anyone had a similar experience. Also, how long before quitting Flonase did you see improvement in any side effects?

  20. DM

    I started fluticasone spray (flonase)last week. 2 sprays a day. I am sad, angry, have a headache and still can’t breath. My eyes feel like they have sand in them. There are more symptoms. I visit the Dr. tomorrow. I feel better that I am not the only one that feels this way. It is not in our imagination. I hope none of this is permanent. The stuffiness, nose bleeds are one thing. The emotional roller coaster the last 4 days have been terrifying.

  21. Carole

    I am one of those “rare” people who developed septal perforation. I can no longer use Flonase to treat seasonal allergy symptoms, and must have a surgical procedure to place a silicone “button’ in my septum to close the hole. NOT HAPPY. Use Flonase carefully!

  22. MS

    I have permanent eye floaters from it after nine months.

  23. NDB

    I took fluticasone for about a month and one morning, I woke up and had no sense of smell or taste. I immediately stopped taking it as I read that that was a possible side effect. I have not used this drug for a couple weeks and my senses has yet to return. Does anyone know if this might be permanent or will it come back? Any feedback would help me very much.

  24. Oliver

    I was prescribed this spray last Wednesday by my doctor and only used it three times, once in each nostril and only once a day. I developed very tight chest pains a few hours later, which made it very difficult to breathe after the second day, so I stopped on Friday. The chest pains still come in waves, which normally start about 3pm and last until late evening.
    I have also developed blurry vision as well, which some people have mentioned. I am never taking this spray again, but does anyone know how long it takes for the steroid to completely leave the system and should I go back to my GP? Is there anything I can take to counter act this?

  25. JR

    I started using Fluticasone (flonase) about 3 months ago and have decided to stop since I read the above comments, especially the last one Jan, 15 2014. It is true regarding the dizziness, still coughing and all the above. I have never had a nose bleed, but last night the same thing happen to me as stated above. Bleeding from the nose and mouth, like a faucet. (I was so frightened). My neighbor told me to apply ice to the bridge of my nose, tilt my head forward just a little and pinch my nose. After about 10 minutes it stopped and this morning no bleeding. So that is it for me. I will go back to my Ocean Spray…

    • Sally
      Utica, MI

      How long did it take before the side effect were gone? Especially the dizziness?
      Thanks so much for your help

  26. MER

    I was prescribed Fluticasone (Flonase) for deviated septum that caused extreme stuffiness at night when trying to sleep. I took this medicine for almost 2 years and sleep much better. However, after my shower this morning, I blew my nose like I do every morning, except this morning, my nose started to bleed and the flow was like a faucet that I couldn’t turn off. No matter how long I pinched my nostrils shut, the flow wouldn’t stop.
    It was so severe I began choking on the bleeding and had my husband take me immediately to the Emergency Room. It took about an hour for the ER to slow the bleeding long enough so the Dr. could cauterize the bleeding. Once the Dr. found out I had been taking this spray for this long, he advised me to stop taking it and see a different ear nose & throat doctor within a couple days.
    His opinion was that no one should be on this medication for this long without being monitored. I haven’t seen my ENT Dr. since he prescribed it and whenever the prescription came up for renewal, he renewed it and never told me I had to come back again in 6 months. But I must take a lot of responsibility for this happening because I didn’t check into the long term side effects. If you are taking this nasal spray, please be very very careful, do your homework and be sure you are being monitored on a regular basis.

  27. MS

    I feel sorry for your son. My eye pressure is good but have tons of floaters and I believe the corticosteriods are part of the problem. I have a high sensitivity to them.

  28. Kristin

    My son is 8 years old, was put on Flonase about a year ago, every day. He has history of asthma and sinus infections and croup when he was a baby. Summer of 2013 he started having stomach issues, which resulted in an inpatient admission at the hospital this past November. And a subsequent barium enema and a motility (Sitz marker) test.
    On 12/26/13 we did a complete bowel prep and on 12/27/13 he had a full upper and lower endoscopy done with 20 biopsies. They were ruling out H. Pylori infection or Celiac disease, because his duodenal bulb (opening to small intestine) was so inflamed, irritated etc. Biopsies came back negative, he hasn’t been on any NSAID’s or aspirin or ibuprofen, which his GI doctor (at our children’s hospital) said can cause it.
    She prescribed two drugs to treat him for stomach ulcer, and when I got them from the pharmacy I was scared to give to him because the side effects are horrible. My whole family including myself is allergic/sensitive to many medications. The doctor still wasn’t sure what the problem is but after doing a lot of research I found that corticosteroids can cause peptic ulcer, which is what he is in early stages of. Peptic ulcers can be in the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum.
    After reading this, there is no doubt in my mind he absorbed the flonase systemically and is caused this problem. He would also complain of a weird smell that I could never smell and thought it was just his imagination. I have discontinued the flonase and now I read every paper from the pharmacy regarding new prescriptions.
    I am sorry for the people on here who also had problems with this medication. My dad is a stroke person who had cataracts removed (unrelated to this) but I know how awful they were for him. I just hope my son’s eye pressure is okay on top of everything else. I guess my next call will be to the eye doctor. Please watch out for ulcers/inflammation if you take this drug!!! Thanks for reading.

  29. JOSEPH

    Been taking Fluticasone for 3 months. I admit to missing some dosages, and in the last week I have made sure not to miss, however the Fluticasone has started to spike my blood sugar. I saw an allergy doctor, and he said I should be aware that any steroid will raise your blood pressure and blood sugar. I wonder why my general practitioner did not tell me.

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