Steroids help to treat allergies by repressing the response of the immune system so that it does not cause reactions like hives, rashes, tightness in the chest, wheezing and other responses that cause a person to feel miserable. Steroids can be taken orally to avoid whole-body responses, or in a nasal spray to help treat the symptoms of environmental allergies. Steroids are also in creams that stop itching that is caused by allergic reactions.
In Case of Emergency
One of the most important uses of steroids in treating allergies is when a person has a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is a steroid used in emergency rooms to help patients who have been exposed to an allergen that has caused this severe allergic reaction. Other treatments in the hospital are intravenous fluids and antihistamines.
When a patient has a severe allergic reaction, it is important to get immediate emergency medical help. Severe reactions progress rapidly, and within a short time, death could occur. Once a person knows that he or she has a serious allergy to something, the person needs to carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times. It is a device that allows a person to give him or herself a steroid shot if he or she has been exposed to a substance that may cause anaphylaxis.
Commonly Prescribed Steroids
One of the most commonly prescribed steroids is Epi-pen, a self-injecting dose of epinephrine that the patient carries. Prednisone is a very common steroid that helps stop allergic reactions, and it is also prescribed to treat asthma. Nasacort and Nasonex are a couple of commonly prescribed steroid nasal sprays. Steroids are also given to patients with asthma to prevent asthma attacks.
Possible Side Effects
Steroid therapy can be prescribed on a continual basis if there is no other effective way to get a patient’s allergies under control. This is also true for asthma patients. Only your doctor can determine how long you need to take steroids. Many people use steroid nasal sprays for long periods of time, but most sprays are not systematic, meaning the steroid remains in the nasal area and does not enter the bloodstream. A few side effects of steroids are weight gain, mood swings, fluid retention, high blood pressure and a greater risk of getting infections.