Deot, Neal; Barr, Jeremy; Mankowski, Nicholas; Brunner, Jacob; McCoul, Edward D.
Background Intranasal corticosteroid (INCS) sprays are indicated for use in the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis and include aqueous and nonaqueous formulations. Secondary symptoms of rhinitis include postnasal drip, facial pain/pressure, headache, cough, and ear fullness. The effectiveness of INCS on these specific symptoms, as well as the comparative effectiveness of aqueous and nonaqueous formulations, is poorly defined. Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of aqueous versus nonaqueous INCS formulations on less common sinonasal symptoms. Methods A systematic review was conducted of English-language, randomized controlled trials, with adherence to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) standard. Studies that did not provide quantitative data on relief of postnasal drip, facial pain/pressure, headache, cough, and ear fullness were excluded. An itemized assessment of the risk of bias was conducted for each included study. Results Of the 118 studies identified, 9 met the criteria for qualitative analysis. An effect on postnasal drip was reported in 5 studies, facial pain/pressure in 2 studies, and cough in 2 studies. A reduction in a specific symptom was reported in about half of these studies, with heterogenous outcome measures. Only 1 study reported the effect of a nonaqueous formulation on a specific symptom. No studies reported an effect on aural fullness. Conclusions Limited data are available regarding the effectiveness of aqueous or nonaqueous INCS on secondary symptoms in adult patients with rhinitis. Further study is needed using homogenous outcome measures and direct comparison of INCS formulations.