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.
What Did This Study Do
PRACTICAL was a 52-week multi-centre randomised controlled trial. It was conducted in New Zealand during 2016/17. It involved 885 adults with mild or moderate asthma symptoms, who were using short-acting beta-agonist inhalers at enrolment with or without low to moderate doses of inhaled corticosteroids for three months.
They were randomised into two groups. The first group of 437 received combined budesonide and formoterol – one inhalation for relief of symptoms as required. The second group of 448 received budesonide – one inhalation twice daily, plus terbutaline – two inhalations as required. Participants were assessed at weeks 0, 4, 16, 28, 40 and 52. The primary outcome was asthma exacerbations, at least severe enough to need oral steroids. The Asthma Control Questionnaire was also used.
Limitations included the open-label design, though this pragmatic design means that real-life compliance was accounted for in the evaluation. This trial was well conducted, but the lower than expected rate of exacerbations meant that the confidence interval was wider than ideal.
Inhaled Corticosteroids As Asthma Treatment Options
Inhaled corticosteroids , also known as inhaled steroids, are the most potent anti-inflammatory controller medications available today for asthma control and are used to decrease the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms. They are the current mainstay of treatment once a person with asthma needs a higher level of care than a rescue inhaler;.
Inhaled corticosteroids help prevent chronic asthma symptoms such as:
You and your physician may want to consider inhaled corticosteroids if any of the following apply:
- You use rescue -agonist treatments, such as albuterol, more than two days per week.
- You have asthma symptoms more than twice weekly.
- You meet certain criteria on spirometry.
- Your asthma interferes with your daily activities.
- You have needed;oral steroids;two;or more times in the last year.
You May Like: Can You Run A Fever With Asthma
How Do Prednisone And Systemic Steroids Work To Increase Asthma Control
Using systemic steroids such as methylprednisolone,Â;prednisone, andÂ;prednisoloneÂ;helps to treat severe asthma episodes, allowing people to gain better asthma control. Prednisone and other steroid drugs may be used to help control sudden and severe asthma attacks or in rare cases to treat long-term, hard-to-control asthma.
Most often, prednisone or another steroid is taken in high doses for a few days for more a severe asthma attack.
Side effects of systemic steroids can include weakness, acne, weight gain, mood or behavior changes, upset stomach, bone loss, eye changes, and slowing of growth. These side effects rarely occur with short-term use, such as for an acute asthma attack.
For in-depth information, see WebMD’s article on Prednisone and Asthma.
How Do Immunomodulators Work To Improve Asthma Control
Mepolizumab is a biologic therapy that has been found to control the blood cells that often trigger asthma. Nucala targets Interluken-5 which regulates the levels of blood eosinophils . Genetically engineered, Nucala keeps IL-5 from binding to eosinophils and, thereby, lowers the risk of a severe asthma attack.
Nucala is administered by injection once every 4 weeks and is meant to be used in conjunction with other asthma treatments as a maintenance medication. By using Nucala, patients have been found to not only experience fewer asthma incidents, but they are able to reduce the amount of their other asthma medications. Side effects include headache and a hypersensitivity reaction that can cause swelling of the face and tongue, dizziness, hives, and breathing problems.
Omalizumab, an immunomodulator, works differently from other anti-inflammatoryÂ;medications for asthma . Xolair blocks the activity of IgE before it can lead to asthma attacks. Immunomodulator treatment has been shown to help reduce the number of asthma attacks in people with moderate to severe allergic asthma whose symptoms are not controlled with inhaled steroids.
Read Also: Is Drinking Water Good For Asthma
When Will Your Doctor Prescribe Steroids For Your Asthma
Your doctor will prescribe steroids for your asthma if you need extra help with symptoms. Theyll prescribe the lowest dose of steroid medicines you need to treat your asthma symptoms and keep you well.
For example, your GP will prescribe steroid medicine if: ;
- youre taking your reliever inhaler three or more times a week. Most people with asthma are prescribed a steroid preventer inhaler to use every day. It stops inflammation building up in your airways and cuts your risk of symptoms. So, if youve only been given a reliever inhaler, and youre using it three or more times a week, see your GP.
- youve had an asthma attack. You might be given a short course of steroid tablets to take until your symptoms are fully under control. These can quickly get the swelling in your airways back down again if you have an asthma attack.
- youre getting asthma symptoms even when youre taking your preventer inhaler as prescribed. This is when a course of steroid tablets may be what you need to get your asthma back under control.
- you have severe asthma. Some people with severe asthma are prescribed a longer course of steroid tablets at higher doses.;
If your asthma is still not well controlled in spite of high dose inhaled steroids, keep taking them until you can discuss your treatment with your GP. Use our severe asthma tool to find out if you need a referral to a severe asthma specialist.
Asthma And Weight Gain: Prevention Starts Early
Gerbstadts advice is followed within her own family her son, now 6 years old, has childhood asthma. His asthma started off when he had a cold, and then would go away, Gerbstadt explains. To better manage his asthma, he eats a healthy diet, a habit that was fostered at a young age. He likes to eat grilled fish with veggies, says Gerbstadt.
The youngster follows a three-pronged approach to staying healthy with asthma he participates in sports, follows a nutritious diet, and manages his asthma, and weight gain has not been an issue for him, she says.
No matter what your age, choosing foods wisely and getting regular exercise are important lifestyle habits for preventing weight gain and living well with asthma.
Don’t Miss: What Causes A Wheeze In Asthma
Risks Of Otc Asthma Medication
OTC asthma inhalers are quick-relief medications that a person should use as soon as asthma symptoms develop. A doctor may also prescribe them for people with exercise-induced asthma who will need to take the medication before working out.
Inhalers send medication directly to the inflamed airways, but it is important to make sure that it reaches the lower lungs.
As with other quick-relief medications, people should only use OTC asthma inhalers occasionally. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, if people feel the need to use an inhaler more than twice within a week or on 2 or more nights a month, they should contact their doctor because their asthma treatment plan is not working as it should.
As asthma is different in every individual, some experts recommend against any kind of OTC treatment, emphasizing the importance of individualized treatment plans.
Steroid Tablets For Asthma
Steroid tablets also come in a soluble or liquid form. They contain a higher dose of steroids than a preventer inhaler.
Your GP will work out how much you need to take, and for how long, depending on your symptoms and how long it takes you to recover.
- For adults, steroid tablets are usually prescribed for at least five days.
- For children, steroid tablets are usually prescribed for at least three days.
- If you need a longer course of steroid tablets, your GP or asthma nurse will make sure these are prescribed at the lowest possible dose. You may need to take them for weeks or a few months at a time, depending on the number of steroid tablets youre prescribed, or how long it takes you to fully recover.
Your course of steroids may be longer depending on how long it takes you or your child to fully recover, says Dr Andy. Its important that you come off them gradually if youve taken them for three weeks or more.;
Read Also: How To Calm Down Asthma Symptoms
Steroid Side Effects Can Be A Concern
Because corticosteroids are used over the long term, the side effects of this type of medicine can be a concern. Some side effects that may result from the use of this type of steroid include the following:
- Fungal Infections.;Thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth, is the most common side effect of inhaled corticosteroids. Thrush can be easily treated and even prevented by rinsing the mouth after the medication is inhaled, or sometimes by changing the inhalation technique. Ask your healthcare provider for advice. Inhaled corticosteroids do not cause fungal infections in the lungs.
- Hoarseness.;Some people find their voices become husky or hoarse when using an inhaled corticosteroid. Usually, this can be remedied by having the doctor lower the dose, but if the hoarseness persists, the treatment may be discontinued. Hoarseness is more common with dry powder inhalers than with HFA inhalers. This problem can be further reduced with the use of a spacer device , which provides a smoother flow of the medication into the lungs, instead of depositing on the vocal cords which is the cause of the hoarseness.
- Bruising.;Occasional bruising may occur from the use of inhaled corticosteroids, but as a rule, side effects throughout the body from such medications are much less than those from steroids taken in a pill form.
Talk To Your Doctor About Side Effects Of Steroids
Response from Lorene Alba, AE-C
Using a steroid inhaler for asthma can suppress your immune system, so its important to talk to your health care provider to discuss the risks, benefits, and potential side effects of taking these medications. If you need a steroid to manage your asthma, its best to take a daily inhaled corticosteroid; when inhaled the medication goes directly into your lungs.
If you take an oral steroid, the medicine is ingested and goes into the bloodstream, which can cause side effects such as weight gain and mood swings. Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and managing stress will all help keep your immune system working well and reduce the chance of catching an infection like pneumonia.
Editors Note: The information in this article cannot be substituted for medical advice. Always consult your doctor before beginning, ending, or changing treatments.
Also Check: What’s An Asthma Attack Feel Like
Which Is The Best Inhaler Device To Use
This depends on various factors such as:
- Convenience. Some inhalers are small, can go easily in a pocket, and are quick to use. For example, the standard MDI inhaler.
- Your age. Children under the age of 6 years generally cannot use dry powder inhalers. This is because such a strong breath is needed to inhale the medicine within the inhaler. Children aged under 12 years generally cannot use standard MDI inhalers without a spacer. Some elderly people find the MDI inhalers difficult to use.
- Your co-ordination. Some devices need more co-ordination than others.
- Side-effects. Some of the inhaler medicine hits the back of the throat. Sometimes this can cause problems such as thrush in the mouth. This tends to be more of a problem with higher doses of steroid inhalers. Less medicine hits the throat when using a spacer device. Therefore, a spacer device may be advised if you get throat problems, or need a high dose of inhaled steroid.
Often the choice of inhaler is just personal preference. Most GPs and practice nurses have a range of devices to demonstrate, and let you get a feel for them. If you are unhappy with the one you are using then ask your GP or practice nurse if you can try a different type.
How to use the Yellow Card Scheme
If you think you have had a side-effect to one of your medicines you can report this on the Yellow Card Scheme. You can do this online at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard.
Prevention Of Irreversible Airway Changes In Asthma
Some patients with asthma develop an element of irreversible airflow obstruction, but the pathophysiological basis of these changes is not yet understood. It is likely that they are the result of chronic airway inflammation and that they may be prevented by treatment with ICS. There is some evidence that the annual decline in lung function may be slowed by the introduction of ICS and this is supported by a five year study of low dose budesonide in patients with mild asthma . Increasing evidence also suggests that delay in starting ICS may result in less overall improvement in lung function in both adults and children . These studies suggest that introduction of ICS at the time of diagnosis is likely to have the greatest impact . So far there is no evidence that early use of ICS is curative and even when ICS are introduced at the time of diagnosis, symptoms and lung function revert to pretreatment levels when corticosteroids are withdrawn .
Recommended Reading: What Does A Nebulizer Do For Asthma
Added Value: Should Our Food Be Fortified With Vitamins And Minerals
This week: White flour
Since World War II, white flour in the UK has had to be fortified with calcium, iron, niacin and thiamine .;
White flour has been fortified in the UK with vitamins
The idea was to boost flour’s nutritional value at a time when many people were on short rations.
The government recently decided to keep this fortification mandatory. ‘It saw that there were still benefits to be had, particularly among vulnerable groups such as older people,’ says dietitian Ursula Arens.;
The limits are set so that it would be difficult to overdose by eating baked goods.
THE DOWNSIDE: ‘Cumulatively, you could exceed recommended amounts, particularly if you take high-dose supplements, too,’ says dietitian Frankie Phillips. So those taking supplements of more than 20mg a day of iron, for example, who also eat lots of white flour-based products may experience nausea and vomiting.
Professor Barnes is concerned that undiagnosed patients are missing out on interventions that, if started early enough, can help manage the condition. Also, an asthma misdiagnosis may lead to the wrong treatment, raising the risk of life-threatening infections.
The condition is resistant to steroids because the inflammation is caused by different types of cells, explains Professor Barnes.
In asthma, it is mainly due to eosinophils, white blood cells produced by the immune system as part of an allergic response.
Others who received a late diagnosis are housebound and rely on portable oxygen cylinders.
What Did It Find
- The rate of severe asthma exacerbations was low in both groups but lower with combination than maintenance steroid plus as-needed reliever therapy .
- When milder exacerbations;needing a visit to the clinic;were added, the combination inhaler remained superior .
- The ACQ-5 score for asthma symptoms did not differ between groups.
- The number of patients withdrawn because of treatment failure did not differ between the two groups .
Don’t Miss: What Is The Blood Test For Eosinophilic Asthma
The Bottom Line For People With Asthma: Continue Taking Prescribed Drugs If Youre On A Steroid Consider Talking To Your Doc About Bone Health
The message to clinicians prescribing these medications to people with asthma is to step down medication dose if symptoms and exacerbations are well managed. Doing so could make a difference in reducing the risk of these side effects.
In the research, investigators lay out guidance for clinicians by stratifying bone health risk by dose, number of prescriptions, and type of oral corticosteroid and inhaled corticosteroid.
The hope is that the data can help inform better bone protection guidelines for people with asthma, Chalitsios says.
The Standard Metered Dose Inhaler
A standard MDI is shown on the right. The MDI has been used for over 40 years and is used to deliver various types and brands of medicines. It contains a pressurised inactive gas that propels a dose of medicine in each âpuffâ. Each dose is released by pressing the top of the inhaler. This type of inhaler is quick to use, small and convenient to carry. It needs good co-ordination to press the canister and breathe in fully at the same time. Sometimes these are known as evohalers.
The standard MDI is the most widely used inhaler. However, many people do not use it to its best effect. Errors include:
- Not shaking the inhaler before using it.
- Inhaling too sharply or at the wrong time.
- Not holding your breath long enough after breathing in the contents.
Until recently, the propellant gas in MDIs has been a chlorofluorocarbon . However, CFCs damage the Earthâs ozone layer, and so are being phased out. The newer CFC-free inhalers work just as well but use a propellant gas that does not damage the ozone layer.
Don’t Miss: How Do People Control Their Asthma
What Are Inhaled Steroids
Inhaled steroids, also called corticosteroids, reduce inflammation in the lungs. Theyre used to treat asthma and other respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
These steroids are hormones that are produced naturally in the body. Theyre not the same as anabolic steroids, which some people use to build muscle.
To use the steroids, breathe in slowly while pressing on the canister attached to your inhaler. This will direct the medicine right into your lungs. Your doctor will advise you to use the inhaler every day.
Inhaled steroids are often used for long-term treatment. They help prevent future asthma attacks by keeping the lungs healthy and relaxed. Inhaled steroids are also sometimes used along with oral steroids.
The most common inhaled steroids are listed below: