Inhaled Steroids | Long-Acting Bronchodilators | Combination Medications | Anti-Leukotrienes | Anti-IgE Therapy | Oral Corticosteroids | Theophyllines
Inhaled steroids, also called inhaled corticosteroids, are considered to be the most effective medications for controlling asthma when taken regularly. They work continuously to reduce swelling of the airways.
Inhaled steroids include:
- Budesonide (Pulmicort®)
- Fluticasone (Flovent®)
- Ciclesonide (Alvesco®)
- Beclomethasone Dipropionate (QVAR®)
If you're taking inhaled steroids and start to feel better, do not stop taking them. You must take them regularly and for as long as your doctor advises if you want to properly control your asthma.
Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective prescribed medication for most patients with asthma. Inhaled corticosteroids at the dose they are currently recommending for asthma have not been shown to cause weak bones, growth suppression, weight gain and cataracts.
The dose of the corticosteroid inhaler is in micrograms, which is one millionth of a gram. Corticosteroids in a tablet form (e.g. Predisone) are in grams, a much higher dose than in the inhaler. Where ever possible, the least amount of medication is used to maintain asthma control. Corticosteroid tablets or liquid are used when a larger dose is needed to get the asthma under control.
Taking inhaled steroids can have a few side effects, but they are generally not serious. They include:
- Hoarse voice
- Sore throat
- Mild throat infection (thrush)
You can minimize these side effects by rinsing your mouth after every dose of inhaled steroids and by using a spacer device with a pressurized MDI (pMDI).
There are a number of misconceptions about inhaled corticosteroids. For example, some people mistakenly believe that they are the same as the anabolic steroids that are sometimes abused by athletes. You can find out the truth about inhaled steroids here.