Asthma Treatment - Long-Term Control Medications - Inhaled Corticosteroids

What are inhaled corticosteroids?

Corticosteroids are medications that can prevent asthma symptoms. They can decrease the number and severity of asthma attacks, but they cannot stop an attack that's already taking place. They work by preventing cells in your lungs and breathing passages from releasing mucus or causing inflammation in your bronchial tubes.

How is this medicine applied?

Inhaled corticosteroids are applied via an inhaler. These inhalers come with patient instructions, but if you aren't sure that you're using it correctly, then ask your doctor to show you how. Some corticosteroids such as beclomethatsone(better known as QVAR) and triamcinolone come as aerosol sprays in your inhaler while others can also be taken in the form of an inhaled capsule or dry powder.

You should puff your inhaler twice four times a day or puff four times twice a day for an adult dose. Between the ages of 6-12, puff once or twice three or four times daily. This rule applies for most inhaled corticosteroids no matter what form they take, but you should consult your doctor for the best dosage for you or your child.

What conditions require this medicine?

These can be used by anyone who wants to keep control of their asthma for long periods of time. There are no unique conditions that would require of corticosteroids though pregnant or nursing women should ask their doctors before taking them, just as with any other medication. You should also avoid taking them if you have allergic reactions to any medicines in this group.

How effective are inhaled corticosteroids?

The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program and the FDA both say that inhaled corticosteroids are the best way to manage your asthma in the long term. On average, it will take about 4-6 weeks for any noticeable improvement, and it may take several months before they fully function in your body. If you're taking other asthma medications, effects may come sooner.

What are the side effects of these medicines?

When you take the normal dose, side effects are usually uncommon and mild. hey usually occur if you take the larger dose by puffing twice rather than four times a day. The most common effects include coughing fits, headache, sore throat, dry mouth and hoarseness. Less common effects include a slight nosebleed, constipation and trouble sleeping. After prolonged use, high blood pressure can sometimes occur in the eyes and potentially trigger glaucoma. If this happens, stop taking your medications and contact your doctor. In children, there's also the possibility of a very slight reduction in growth by about an inch on average, but no other unique side effects exist.

If you take the corticosteroid salmeterol(Advair), it may actually make asthma attacks worse. If your wheezing worsens after taking it, speak to your doctor.