Prior nasal spray use linked to fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations

A doctor uses an iPad in a hospital setting.

Adults who previously used steroid-based nasal sprays and later had COVID-19 were less likely to go to the hospital, need intensive care, or die prematurely, according to an analysis of thousands of patients. The review, which used the Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 patient registry, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

To start the review, researchers analyzed data from the electronic health records of 82,096 patients who developed COVID-19. Among the 72,147 who were included in this study, 12,608 (17.5%) were hospitalized, 2,935 (4.1%) required intensive care, and 1,880 (2.6%) died at the hospital. Within the larger patient group, adults who previously used nasal sprays – which a doctor may recommend for allergies and sinus problems – were less likely to experience severe outcomes. However, the researchers stress the observational nature of the review. They conclude additional studies and a randomized controlled trial would be necessary to determine if steroid-based nasal sprays mitigate risks for severe COVID-19 outcomes.

The authors also cited prior research with broader associations, such as the use of anti-inflammatory steroids, including dexamethasone, to treat patients with severe
COVID-19. They noted smaller studies that found steroid-based inhalers, used for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may prevent replication of the coronavirus. The study was supported by the NHLBI and the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke.