Asthma Treatment - Quick Relief Medications - Oral and Intravenous Corticosteroids

When it comes to asthma treatments, there is no such thing as one treatment for all because everyone's condition is different. One treatment we hear a lot about is quick relief medications such as oral and intravenous corticosteroids. Learn more below about this widely-used treatment and when it's most effective.

Type of Treatment

Oral and intravenous corticosteroids are a type of asthma treatment designed to provide quick relief for asthma sufferers. Also referred to as a rescue drug, this treatment method is generally used when patients are having an asthma attack and need immediate relief.

Oral and intravenous corticosteroids are also beneficial in reducing the inflammation in the airway, which is usually responsible for the asthma attack. Although this treatment may be used for an extended period of time, it's typically used only as a quick treatment. In some types of asthma attacks, patients may also receive corticosteroids through an inhaler.

How it is Applied

Oral and intravenous corticosteroids may be applied orally in pill form or through an intravenous injection. When taken as a pill, the patient generally takes it once a day in the morning but may take three to four pills a day for the first couple of days. Patients who receive the corticosteroids intravenously are generally hospitalized.

Generally, physicians do not like patients to use corticosteroids on a long-term basic but prefer to find a more effective long-term treatment method. Additionally, because they can cause restrict growth in children, they're prescribed in very low dosages for children.

Patient Conditions that Require This Treatment

This type of treatment is generally used on patients who are experiencing serious asthma attacks that may include excessive sneezing, coughing and shortness of breath. It may also be used to help prevent a serious asthma attack if the patient is lucky enough to feel an attack coming on. As stated above, this treatment is used when the condition warrants immediate and rapid relief.


Oral and intravenous corticosteroids are often very effective because they provide immediate relief and often prevent hospitalization for both adults and children. Although case studies on various asthma patients revealed that there really wasn't much of a difference between oral or intravenous corticosteroids, it was shown that both provided the same type of quick relief. Patients who were hospitalized did not their stay time lessened by using one method over the other.

Side Effects

Patients who use these drugs on a long-term basic may experience mood changes, hair thinning, sleep difficulties, increased hair growth and may even develop osteoporosis. This medication can also cause the following side effects.

  • Swollen hands or face
  • Itching or hives
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Eye pain
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Vision problems
  • Weight gain or fluid retention

If patients who are taking this drug for either long- or short-term relief experience any of the above side effects, they should mention it to their doctor. As in any medication, side effects should be monitored and acknowledged as soon as possible.