A group of Mayo Clinic researchers conducted the first controlled trial of swallowed fluticasone nasal spray (also known as Flonase) on people with the allergic esophageal condition called eosinophilic esophagitis. Research showed that the aerosolized swallowed allergy drug helped treat the cause of the throat condition, but symptoms lingered. The researchers' findings were presented today at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in San Antonio.
Eosinophilic esophagitis is a relatively new disease, first noticed in young people, that causes those who have the condition to feel like solid food is sticking in their throat or like they have heartburn. A steroid applied to the esophagus is often used for treatment, but its effectiveness has not been scientifically proven.
For the randomized, double-blind study, 34 adults swallowed either a placebo or aerosolized fluticasone twice a day for six weeks. Fluticasone is used in inhalers and as a nasal spray to treat inflammation in the lungs and sinuses caused by allergies. The drug is a corticosteroid that decreases irritation and swelling and, when used for asthma, allows for easier breathing.
After completing the course of medication, the research volunteers were given questionnaires to assess their symptoms and side effects of the treatment. Their throats were examined with an endoscope and then through biopsies for the presence of eosinophils -- a type of white blood cell that secretes proteins, which researchers suspect causes swallowing problems.