Who Can Use Steroid Inhalers
Most people can use steroid inhalers.
Tell your doctor before starting treatment if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to steroids in the past
- have tuberculosis or another infection of your lungs or airways
- are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for a baby
Steroid inhalers are normally safe to use while breastfeeding and during pregnancy, but it’s a good idea to get medical advice first.
If you need to take a high dose during pregnancy, you may need regular check-ups to check for any side effects.
How Well It Works
According to the United States National Asthma Education and Prevention Program , inhaled corticosteroids are the preferred long-term treatment for asthma.footnote 1 If the inhaled corticosteroid does not control asthma symptoms well enough, other medicines, such as a long-lasting beta2-agonist or a leukotriene pathway modifier, may be used.
Inhaled corticosteroids are the most powerful and most effective medicine for long-term control of asthma in most people. When taken consistently, they improve lung function, improve symptoms, and reduceasthma attacks and admissions to the hospital for asthma.footnote 1
What Are The Side Effects Of Inhaled Steroids
Inhaled steroids have few side effects, especially at lower doses. Thrush and hoarseness may occur, although this is rare. Rinsing the mouth, gargling after using the asthma inhaler, and using a spacer device with metered dose inhalers can help prevent these side effects. Thrush is easily treated with a prescription antifungal lozenge or rinse.
Inhaled steroids are safe for adults and children. Side effects with these anti-inflammatory asthma inhalers are minimal. Your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose that effectively controls your child’s or your asthma.
On a side note, many parents are concerned about giving their children “steroids.” Inhaled steroids are not the same as anabolic steroids that some athletes take to build muscle. These steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs, the cornerstone of asthma therapy. There are many benefits of using anti-inflammatory asthma inhalers to manage asthma.
To learn more about using inhaled steroids in children, see WebMD’s article on Childhood Asthma.
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Benefits Of Using Inhaled Steroids
Inhaled steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs, allowing you to breathe better. In some cases, they also reduce the production of mucus.
It can take a few weeks to see results from inhaled steroids. They cant be used to treat asthma attacks right when they happen, but they can prevent future attacks. In many cases, the longer you use the steroids, the less you will have to rely on a rescue inhaler.
Inhaled steroids are corticosteroids. Theyre similar to cortisol, which is a hormone thats produced naturally in the body. Every morning, the adrenal glands release cortisol into the bloodstream, which gives you energy.
Inhaled steroids work the same as cortisol. Your body cant tell whether the cortisol is coming from your body or from an inhaler, so the benefits are the same.
While inhaled steroids are fairly easy to use, a healthcare professional can make sure youre following the proper technique.
The best practices below will help you avoid oral thrush and keep your asthma symptoms from returning:
- Use your inhaled steroids every day, even if youre not experiencing asthma symptoms.
- Use a spacer device with a metered dose, if instructed to do so by your doctor.
- Rinse your mouth with water immediately after using the inhaler.
- See your doctor if you develop oral thrush.
If you no longer need the same level of steroids, your doctor can adjust your dose. Lowering the dose or going off the steroids should be done slowly.
What Is An Inhaler
Around 1 in 13 people in the United States have asthma, and on average, 10 people die from this condition each day. A doctor may prescribe an asthma inhaler to help treat the symptoms of the condition.
Inhalers are portable, hand-held devices that deliver asthma medication to the lungs and airways. Inhalers can help prevent or relieve asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.
Bronchodilators can be either short- or long-acting.
Short-acting inhalers, which people may also call quick-relief or rescue inhalers, provide short-term relief for sudden asthma symptoms.
Long-acting inhalers, on the other hand, can help prevent asthma symptoms. A person will usually need to use these inhalers daily.
Doctors may prescribe one or both types of bronchodilators in inhaler forms. An individual can also purchase over-the-counter inhalers to ease asthma symptoms.
Medical News Today chooses products that fit the following criteria:
- Price: Products fit a variety of budgets.
- Purpose: Products are suitable for a range of needs.
- Clarity: Brands and products give clear product information, including instructions on how to use a device.
It is advisable to consider the following factors before purchasing an OTC inhaler:
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How This Medicine Works
Your child breathes these medicines into their lungs to treat asthma. They help reduce swelling in the airways on a daily basis and help prevent flare-ups. They may not help your child during an asthma flare-up, but they should still use the medicine during episodes that have increased symptoms.
During an asthma flare-up, your child must also use a rescue inhaler like albuterol if they are having asthma symptoms.
Fluticasone Propionate/salmeterol Versus Beclometasone Dipropionate
One trial was identified that compared the efficacy of BDP and FP/SAL as a step-down therapy after high-dose ICS . Lung function measures were compared between treatment groups at the end of the 8-week treatment period instead of comparing the change from baseline in each group. Methacholine PD20, post-study FEV1 , morning and afternoon PEF were all significantly greater in patients on FP/SAL than in patients on BDP : 149.9 versus 71.2 : 2.46 versus 2.26 , p< 0.05 FEV1 : 77 versus 70 : 434 versus 402 , p< 0.05 evening PEF : 436 versus 408 p< 0.05). No differences were found in FEF2575%, symptom scores, or reliever medication use . No significant differences were found between treatment groups for serum cortisol levels, urinary cortisol/creatinine ratio, or serum osteocalcin .
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Why It Is Used
Inhaled corticosteroids are the preferred treatment for long-term control ofmild persistent,moderate persistent, orsevere persistent asthma symptoms in children, teens, and adults. They help control narrowing and inflammation in the bronchial tubes. In general, they are part of daily asthma treatment and are used every day.
Different types of medicines are often used together in the treatment ofasthma. For example, inhaled corticosteroids are often used together with long-acting beta2-agonists for persistent asthma. Medicine treatment for asthma depends on a person’s age, his or her type of asthma, and how well the treatment is controlling asthma symptoms.
- Children up to age 4 are usually treated a little differently from those 5 to 11 years old.
- The least amount of medicine that controls the asthma symptoms is used.
- The amount of medicine and number of medicines are increased in steps. So if asthma is not controlled at a low dose of one controller medicine, the dose may be increased. Or another medicine may be added.
- If the asthma has been under control for several months at a certain dose of medicine, the dose may be reduced. This can help find the least amount of medicine that will control the asthma.
- Quick-relief medicine is used to treat asthma attacks. But if you or your child needs to use quick-relief medicine a lot, the amount and number of controller medicines may be changed.
General Cautions For All Medicines
- Allergic reactions.
- All medicines can cause a reaction. This can sometimes be an emergency. Before you take any new medicine, tell the doctor or pharmacist about any past allergic reactions you’ve had.
- Drug interactions.
- Sometimes one medicine may keep another medicine from working well. Or you may get a side effect you didn’t expect. Medicines may also interact with certain foods or drinks, like grapefruit juice and alcohol. Some interactions can be dangerous.
- Harm during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, ask your doctor or pharmacist if all the medicines you take are safe.
- Other health problems.
- Before taking a medicine, be sure your doctor or pharmacist knows about all your health problems. The medicine for one health problem may affect another health problem.
Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines and natural health products. That information will help prevent serious problems.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you’re taking. For a full list of warnings, check the information that came with the medicine you’re using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
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Why Are Inhaled Corticosteroids Used
Inhaled corticosteroids are used to help:
- You breathe better.
- Prevent and improve your asthma symptoms.
- Reduce asthma attacks.
These medicines are commonly used to treat asthma. They work well and are considered very safe. They are the preferred medicines for controlling asthma over the long term. There are also other types of controller medicines.
Asthma Inhaler Prices Skyrocket
A ban on the propellant once used in inhalers is partially to blame for the dramatic price increases in the last few years. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration required manufacturers of inhalers to stop using chlorofluorocarbon propellants because they posed a threat to the environment. In response, the manufacturers developed new inhalers with new patents. This has delayed generics from entering the market. Without that competition, the manufacturers have been able to increase the pricean average of 50 percent since 2009, with some medications jumping 80 percent or more in price.
For example, QVAR 80 mcg, at $177 for a months supply, is 92 percent more expensive than it was in 2009, according to prices from Symphony Health Solutions, which is not involved in our analysis or recommendations. Pulmicort nebulizer is another example. Over the last five years, the monthly price has jumped as high as 86 percent. Even the price of budesonide, the only generic inhaled steroid currently available, has risen 47 percent over the last three years.
When the patents on the new inhalers expire, that would open the way for less costly generics. That would, in turn, help drive down the prices of inhaled steroids across the board. But its unclear when additional generics besides budesonide will become available.
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What Is An Asthmatracker
The AsthmaTrackercan help you track how well your symptoms respond to your treatment plan. You write down your symptoms, peak expiratory flow rate and medication use each day. This will help you notice a pattern to your symptoms. With this you can develop strategies to stop the symptoms before they can stop you.
How And When To Use A Steroid Inhaler
There are several types of steroid inhaler, which are used in slightly different ways.
A doctor or nurse will show you how to use your inhaler. Make sure you use it exactly as advised. The Asthma UK website has videos explaining how to use the different types of inhaler.
You’ll usually need to take 1 or 2 puffs from your inhaler in the morning and 1 or 2 puffs in the evening.
It’s important to keep using your inhaler, even if you feel better. It will only stop your symptoms if it’s used every day.
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Inclusion Criteria Information Source Search And Study Selection
Studies eligible for inclusion in the systematic review were published RCTs comparing FP-containing therapy with ICS preparations of small particle size in adults and children with asthma. Specifically, treatments evaluated included FP and FP/SAL versus ICS small particle size comparators . Abstracts for potential inclusion in the systematic review were identified from the MEDLINE database using the following search terms in PubMed: disease: asthma exposure: fluticasone, Flovent®, Flixotide®, Advair®, Seretide®. Abstracts in English published between January 1, 1998 and January 13, 2014 were considered.
Flow diagram showing implementation of search and screening strategies. BDP, beclometasone dipropionate, BDP-F, beclometasone dipropionate/formoterol fumarate CIC, ciclesonide FP, fluticasone propionate FP/SAL, fluticasone propionate/salmeterol ICS, inhaled corticosteroid
Choosing An Corticosteroid Inhaler
Inhaled steroids come in three different types of devices:
- Metered dose inhalers : A small pressurized canister contains the medication and a propellant spray. You push down on the canister and the propellant delivers the medication through a plastic mouthpiece into your lungs. Examples include Asmanex HFA, Flovent HFA, and Alvesco.
- Dry powder inhalers : The device may be similar to an MDI or be a disc or oval shape, but it doesn’t contain a propellant. The medication is a dry powder, which you release by taking a deep, fast breath. DPIs prescribed for asthma include Flovent Diskus, Pulmicort Flexihaler, Qvar RediHaler, and Asmanex Twisthaler.
- Nebulizer: Nebulizers turn liquid medicine into a mist that you inhale. They come in electric or battery-run versions with either a mouthpiece or a mask.
When choosing an inhaler, one of the main considerations is how much of the drug exiting the inhaler is actually deposited in the air passages of the lungs. By and large, DPIs tend to deliver more active drug than MDIs.This doesn’t necessarily mean the therapeutic effects of MDIs are any less than that of the DPIs they generally aren’t. It may only pose a problem if a spacer is used.
In such case, a DPI such as Qvar RediHaler, which delivers 50% of the active drug to the lungs, may be less impacted by a spacer than an MDI like Asmanex HFA, which delivers only 11%.
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Side Effects Of Inhaled Corticosteroids
The most common side effects of ICS include:1,3
- Fungal infection of the mouth
- Nausea, vomiting, or stomach discomfort
Other potential side effects from ICS use for asthma may occur. These are rare and may include:3
- Suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This can suppress the immune system, making people who take ICS more susceptible to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Serious or fatal courses of measles or chickenpox can occur.
- Increased blood sugar
- Increased risk of bone fracture
These are not all the possible side effects of ICS use. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that worry you.
What Are The Side Effects Of Oral Steroids Used For Asthma
While oral steroids are often prescribed for severe asthma and has benefits, overuse of OCS can jeopardize long-term health.
OCS use has a cumulative effect on a person over their lifetime and overreliance can cause significant side effects. These include:
- Weight gain, high blood sugar, can trigger or worsen diabetes
- Increased risk of infections
- Thin skin, bruising and slower wound healing
- Mood swings, depression, aggressive behavior
People using OCS should be aware of and watchful for side effects and always discuss any side effects with their physician once therapy is started. People with asthma should also:
- Ask their doctor for a blood test to determine their type of asthma
- Find out if alternative treatments are available · Balance the risks vs. benefits of taking OCS in a with their doctor
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How Inhaled Steroids Work
Asthma is essentially an overactive response of the immune system to something in the environment.
When you come in contact with an asthma trigger , your immune system releases cells that cause inflammation in your bronchial tubes . This narrows them and makes it hard to breathe.
Inhaled corticosteroids reduce this inflammation. They also reduce the amount of mucus in your bronchial tubes. The result is clear and open airways that allow you to breathe normally.
Corticosteroid drugs reduce inflammation in a couple of ways. The first is by getting the immune system to halt its attack.
Strategy For Inhaled Corticosteroid Use Leads To Better Asthma Outcomes According To National Study Of Black And Latinx Patients
A national study has found that when patients who self-identified as Black or Latinx were instructed to use inhaled corticosteroids when they needed reliever medication for asthma, their risk of severe exacerbation was reduced by 15% and they missed fewer days of normal activity when compared with those who were instructed to use only a fast-acting medication for asthma symptoms.
The study included 1,200 Black and Latinx adults with moderate or severe asthma who were followed for 15 months by researchers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including asthma experts at the University of Illinois Chicago.
The UIC team followed 60 patients with asthma who enrolled in the study, which was conducted from November 2017 to April 2021.
We know that new patient-centered strategies to use controller medications with relievers when symptoms occur work in clinical trials and guidelines are finally changing to reflect this, said study co-author Paul Stranges, clinical assistant professor at the UIC College of Pharmacy. What we still needed to see is if these approaches work outside controlled clinical trials and if they work for all people with asthma, especially those in high-risk communities.
Black and Latinx individuals experience higher rates of asthma-related emergency department visits, higher rates of hospitalizations and approximately double the asthma mortality rate compared with white individuals, but interventions to reduce this disparity have so far had varied results.
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Which Starting Doses Should Be Used
All guidelines agree that inhaled corticosteroids are the first choice preventer for adults with asthma and that the starting dose should be appropriate to the severity of the disease. For mild persistent asthma, they advise starting with low doses of inhaled corticosteroids, up to 250 microgram daily of fluticasone or beclomethasone, or 400 microgram daily of budesonide. An equivalent dose of the halogenated inhaled corticosteroid ciclesonide is 160 microgram daily.
In moderate to severe asthma, the GINA guidelines and the British Thoracic Society guidelines, based on evidence from several large trials, advocate commencing treatment with an inhaled corticosteroid and a long-acting bronchodilator.
The question of whether to start with a low dose or a higher dose has been partly answered by a recent systematic review of 13 clinical trials of inhaled corticosteroids.12The trials compared different starting doses in adults who had not previously taken inhaled corticosteroids for asthma of varying severity. Meta-analysis showed that there was no significant difference between high or moderate doses of inhaled corticosteroids for day and night symptom scores, and reliever use. Comparison of studies using a step-down approach versus constant low-moderate doses of inhaled corticosteroid showed no difference in lung function, symptoms or reliever medication use. Meta-analysis of the change in peak expiratory flow showed no significant difference in morning values.