What are the adverse effects of corticosteroids in the treatment of allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS)?

Updated: Apr 13, 2020
  • Author: John E McClay, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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The well-recognized benefits of systemic corticosteroids are counterbalanced by numerous potential adverse effects, including growth retardation, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, psychotropic effects, gastrointestinal side effects, cataracts, glaucoma, osteoporosis, and aseptic necrosis of the femoral head. Schubert and Goetz noted no adverse effects in their series of 67 patients with allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS) who were treated for up to 1 year with systemic corticosteroids, but long-term follow-up study for this form of therapy is lacking. The adverse effect profile of systemic corticosteroids warrants careful consideration when they are used in a long-term fashion to control allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS).

Topical corticosteroids generally present fewer adverse effects than systemic corticosteroids, based on their limited bioavailability. Long-term use, especially when topical corticosteroids are used at high dosages or in combination with inhaled corticosteroids, presents a risk of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis suppression, cataract formation, growth retardation, nasal bleeding, and nasal septal perforation in rare cases. As with individuals on any form of long-term therapy, patients using topical corticosteroid sprays should be monitored.

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