Corticosteroid is a form of steroid that is used to treat the symptoms of asthma. It works by reducing inflammation of the passages through which air flows to the lungs, making it easier for the patient to breath. It also breaks down mucus that is made by the body’s bronchial tubes, which can build up in the air passages and further restrict the patient’s breathing.
Although corticosteroid is a type of steroid, in its powder inhalant form only minimal amounts are absorbed into the blood. Therefore, the drug is largely a safe long-term treatment for those with asthma, helping them to manage their condition and improving quality of life for chronic sufferers. The medication also has the benefit of causing very few side effects, other than mild short-term symptoms around the area of application (the mouth and the throat). There are various different types of corticosteroids that are used to treat those with asthma or other respiratory diseases, and a doctor may recommend several different types for patients to try. Examples of slightly carrying types include beclomethasone, budesonide, flunisolide, ciclesonide, fluticasone and mometasone.
Corticosteroids are often prescribed to asthma sufferers along with a number of other medications or treatment therapies. Patients are commonly prescribed a form of corticosteroid along with another type of medicine called a beta2 agonist. These medicines work by acting on the adrenergic receptor, helping to relax muscles and loosen the bronchial tubes.
Corticosteroids come in a variety of inhalant devices, aimed at helping patients to find the inhalation method that works for them long-term. There are inhalers through which the patient can press a button to release the substance, while breathing in at the same time. There are those that can be inhaled without a button, using a hard breath to release the substance into the airways. And there are inhalers that release their substance automatically upon detecting an inward breath. These are ideal for those that find it difficult to take deep breaths.
Around 25 million people suffer from asthma in the United States – that’s approximately one in 12. Numbers of sufferers have increased in the last 15 years and the disease is slightly more prevalent in children than adults – although many people deal with the condition throughout their lifetimes. The chronic disease causes difficulty breathing and can often result in “attacks” (where breathing becomes even more labored). The condition happens as a result of inflammation in the air passages to the lungs, which leads to temporarily narrow passages. This leaves less space for the air to pass through, making it difficult for the patient to catch a breath or take a deep breath. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty taking a deep breath, wheezing and a tightness in the chest. Symptoms of asthma can also make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks if they are not managed properly. Tasks such as exercise become labored for those with poorly managed asthma. And for those with severe asthma, it can seriously impact the ability to do even the simplest of exercises.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition, but it can be managed using a combination of medication, inhalers and lifestyle changes. Corticosteroid is not a cure for the condition; however, it can help those with asthma live with their asthma, and learn to keep it under control before it turns into an “attack”. Sufferers of asthma will gradually learn how to best live with and manage their condition. A number of positive lifestyle changes are also recommended to help maximize the effectiveness of treatments such as corticosteroids, including maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, adopting a healthy eating plan and keeping activities such as smoking and drinking alcohol to a minimum.
Corticosteroid can be prescribed to patients with varying levels of severity of asthma – including mild persistent, moderate persistent and severe persistent asthma. It is suitable for all age groups, including young children, teenagers and adults, and can be used throughout a person’s lifetime so long as the body continues to respond to it. The dosage can be adjusted throughout a patient’s lifetime, according to changes he or she may experience.
Corticosteroid is also available under several different brand names in the United States, listed below:
Patients that are prescribed a corticosteroid inhaler may experience certain side effects, particularly when they start using the inhaler for the first time. Those that are entirely new to inhalers may be particularly vulnerable to side effects during the early stages of their treatment, as their bodies become used to the substance being in the system.
Side effects of taking corticosteroids are generally very mild, and most people do not experience any negative side effects.
Most of the reported side effects of using corticosteroid inhalers are not serious, and will usually go away after a few days or weeks. And in many cases, the side effects experienced will be preferable to the symptoms of asthma so that patient may wish to carry on with treatment. The below side effects are not usually a sign of a serious adverse reaction, but should be monitored; if they do not subside after a week or so, the patient should contact his or her health care professional for advice. There are other inhalers that can be provided if the prescribed form of corticosteroid is not compatible.
As corticosteroid is supplied as powder or spray to be inhaled directly into the lungs, it is not generally absorbed into the body. This means that side effects are usually rare or minimal, and are limited to symptoms at the side of administration (e.g. in the mouth and throat). They include:
Patients can help to reduce the likelihood of suffering from side effects (particularly in the mouth or throat) by adopting a stricter oral hygiene regime. This can include rinsing the mouth with water or a mouth wash, gargling or using a spacer device with the inhaler. Patients should also take care to keep the mouth pieces of their inhaler devices clean. Wipe the mouth piece after each use and, if it came with a lid, make sure that it is in place when you are not using the inhaler device.
There are also several side effects that patients may develop over a long period of time of using corticosteroid inhalers. You should speak to your doctor if you think you are developing any of the below conditions, although they should be detected at regular check-ups with your health clinic:
The dosage of corticosteroids prescribed to you will depend on a number of factors, including your age, the severity of your condition, your medical history and any other drugs that you may be taking. There are various different strengths of corticosteroid inhalers available.
In terms of the threshold of when to start using a corticosteroid inhaler, there are national guidelines available. However, the exact time to start is difficult to determine. Previous medical studies have advised that patients who are woken up by their condition at least one night per week should be given the medication. Patients should also be given inhaled corticosteroids if they are using a beta agonist at least three times per week, or have had an attack of asthma that has required a treatment of oral corticosteroid at least once in the past two years.
The starting dose of corticosteroid for these patients is unclear. However, there are recommendations from medical studies that patients should usually be started on a dose of 400 micro grams BDP equivalent each day.
Maintenance dosage for corticosteroid inhalers can vary between 200 to 1,000 micro grams per day, depending on the reaction within individual patients. Some patients see the maximum response at 200 mg, while some may require more than 1,000 mg to reach their maximum response.
Corticosteroid inhalers are often prescribed along with other forms of treatment that can further help to manage the symptoms of asthma. Medical guidelines recommend that the dosage offered to patients should not exceed 800 mg per day without first trying other additional treatment or therapy. Only in very exceptional cases will the maintenance dose be adjusted at higher than 1,000 mg per day.
Patients should take each dose of their inhaler once per day, at the same time of day. It is not advisable to take your inhaler at meal times; ideally take it when your stomach is not full.
One of the most significant problems with using corticosteroid inhalers as a treatment for managing the symptoms of asthma is non-compliance by patients in taking their medication at the recommended times each day. Some patients may dislike the sensation of using an inhaler and therefore slip out of the habit of taking it when intended. It is predicted that compliance in taking corticosteroid inhalers correctly is around 40 percent. Some patients may also choose not to take use their inhaler when they feel that their condition is improving or particularly mild. This could lead to severe asthma; however, there is not any evidence to suggest that severity of the condition is linked to low compliance. If a patient is non-compliant in using his or her inhaler, a doctor may be able to offer a different type of corticosteroid inhaler that is more preferable or comfortable to use.
Older health guidelines had recommended that, where the patient is struggling to control the asthma symptoms and they are not responding to lower dosages, the dosage offered should be increased to between 1,000 mg and 2,000 mg per day without introducing other medications such as beta agonists. However, research has now found that different options for add-on therapies should be explored before increasing the dosage of corticosteroids to this level. There are five treatment options that have been found to have a health benefit when added to a regular dosage of corticosteroids – a long-acting beta2 agonist inhalant, oral slow release beta2 agonists, oral theophyllines and leukotriene receptor antagonists.
Patients should take the medication daily in order to notice improvements in their condition within the normal timeframe. Provided the dosage instructions are adhered to, patients could see an improvement in their condition in one to three weeks on average after they start using the steroid inhalers. The optimal results are usually seen around three months after the start of the treatment, if the medication is taken every day as prescribed.
There are various different types of inhalers and different colors indicate different function. Preventer inhalers are brown or orange and relievers are normally blue. General types of inhalers are as follows:
When you take your dose, make sure you take it correctly.
Patients must tell their doctors about any other medications that they may be taking. This can affect the prescribed dosage of corticosteroid given, or may mean that the drug is not suitable for consumption at all.
Drug interactions are when one or more substances have a reaction when mixed together. If this reaction happens inside the human body, it can lead to a variety of side effects, diseases and conditions – some of them very dangerous. Taking certain drugs at the same time may also decrease their effectiveness or even make your condition worse.
Not all drugs that have interactions with each other can’t be taken together – you may just need an adjusted dose. However, some should never be taken together under any circumstance as the risk to health has been conclude to be greater than the perceived benefit to health. Interactions are grouped into three categories.
There are almost 800 drugs that have been found to react on some level with corticosteroid. Of these, 63 drugs have a major reaction. Check the list below, which contains the names of all 63 drugs and their branded counterparts. If you are taking anything on this list, you should not be taking corticosteroid inhaler:
There are various health warnings that those taking corticosteroid inhalers should be aware of – both before and during treatment. Read the following guide carefully to help minimize the risk of developing health complications as a result of taking this medication.
Just like drug interactions, there are other diseases or conditions in the human body that can react with medications. This is why, prior to receiving a prescription for corticosteroids, your doctor will fully assess your medical suitability for the medication. It is therefore equally important that you tell your doctor about any other health conditions or diseases that you suffer from now, or have suffered from at any point in the past. There may also be conditions that you suspect you may have or may be vulnerable too; in this case, it is best to ask your doctor for advice and, if necessary, tests can be carried out first to check your health. There are 29 diseases and conditions that can interact with corticosteroids and, if you suffer from any of them, you may need to take an alternative treatment. These are:
This medication is not meant for treating the symptoms of an asthma attack. There are different emergency medications that your doctor can give you for managing attacks and preventing them from taking place. Corticosteroids are meant for general, daily and long-term use and will not be strong enough to protect the patient in the case of an attack. If you suffer acute asthma attacks regularly, you will need to seek urgent advice in how to bring these attacks down in severity and frequency. Corticosteroids are likely to be recommended for long-term use and as part of a full, holistic treatment plan.
This medication should be used with caution when you are suffering from an infection, whether that is a viral, bacterial or fungal infection. Using your inhaler when you have any type of infection can cause it to become worse. Contact your doctor if you are worried that this medication is making nay infection you may be suffering from worse, you should contact your doctor for advice. However, do not stop taking your medication suddenly as this can lead to poorly controlled breathing and the symptoms of asthma returning more severely.
Women that are over the menopausal stage and who suffer from the condition osteoporosis (the weakening of the bones), this medication should be administered with caution. There is a chance that higher doses of this medication can make the condition worse, particularly in those that have not received any form of estrogen replacement.
Allergies can aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD. This is why it is particularly important to consult your medical professional about any known allergies that you have before choosing the right inhaler. Some people are allergic to corticosteroids themselves, and therefore should not take this medication. However, you should also tell your doctor about allergies such as those to pollen, dust, pets such as dogs and cats, foods, preservatives and dyes. The more information you can give about your allergies, the more likely it will be that you can find a safe, long-term treatment for your respiratory disease.
Corticosteroids are considered to be safe for use by children, producing no known additional or more severe side effects than in adults. However, the main risk – although very rare – is that the medication may slow growth if used long-term. Medical studies have concluded that some children using the drug to treat respiratory diseases have reported slower growth as well as reduced adrenal gland function. It is important to note, however, that slowed growth in children can also be caused by asthma that is poorly managed, or when larger doses of corticosteroid have needed to be used.
Children should be prescribed the lightest dose possible when using corticosteroid inhalers. This lower dose will minimize the risk of health complications, particularly if usage instructions are followed and the produce is not misused. Inhalers are generally much more preferable to corticosteroids that are taken by mouth. This is because oral tablets are much more easily absorbed into the system, leading to a greater risk of side effects. Oral tablets are only usually prescribed if the condition becomes more severe or as a temporary measure to relive symptoms; the child should be moved to inhaled corticosteroid as soon as possible where oral drugs have been prescribed.
Children that have been prescribed larger doses of corticosteroids should avoid exposure to other people that have been diagnosed with measles or chickenpox.
There have not been any reports or medical studies that have found this medication to cause birth defects or harm to the fetus when used during pregnancy. Most women can continue to use the drug in its inhaler form and in lower doses throughout pregnancy in order to control their asthma. However, there have been studies conducted on animals that have found the medication to cause birth defects and other health complications in their offspring.
Corticosteroids have generally been advocated for use during pregnancy, as they can prevent asthma attacks or poorly managed breathing. This can actually have benefits during pregnancy so, despite the very minor and small risks, the benefits are thought to outweigh this.
Most drugs can pass into the breast milk, so taking any substance when a patient is breast feeding should be approached with caution. However, not all substances are harmful to a nursing baby. As corticosteroids taken through inhalation are only absorbed by very minor quantities into the body, it is not thought that there is any risk to a nursing baby.
It is important that you follow the storage instructions for your corticosteroid inhalers. Keep the inhaler device in cool, dry conditions. Do not put it in the fridge or freezer and keep them away from direct sources of light (such as sunlight) and heat. Do not store your inhalers in the bathroom as they can become damp. Always keep your medication clearly labelled and in the packaging it came in. This will avoid any confusion and mix-ups with medicine.
Do not use inhalers that have passed their expiry date, as this could be harmful to your health, creating unwanted side effects. Corticosteroid inhalers are generally less effective after they have passed their sell by date, so seek a new prescription if you find yours has become too old for use.
When you have finished the dosage in each inhaler, you should try to recycle the device rather than simply throwing it away. Local pharmacies generally accept old devices and can recycle these in the correct way. Likewise, you can take them back to your doctor after use and they will be able to dispose or recycle the devices.
When disposing of medication, make sure that you do it in a safe and responsible way. Many people in the United States simply throw old medications out with the regular trash collections. However, this is a dangerous way to get rid of unwanted medicine, as it could end up being consumed by animals, accessed by children, or even harming the environment in some cases. The safest way to dispose of your unused drugs is to arrange for them to be collected by a specialist drug disposal service. Luckily, these types of services are readily available throughout the country and it couldn’t be simpler to sort out. You can find out which drug take-back schemes are available in the area in which you live by visiting the website of the FDA and searching by your zip code. If there are no schemes available in your area, the FDA provides useful advice on how to dispose of medicines yourself in the safest and most responsible manner.
Corticosteroid steroids have largely been found to be both safe and highly effective at treating the symptoms of asthma in both adults and children. They are the most important aspect of a long-term treatment plan for those with the condition and other respiratory diseases, helping the patient to live a normal life. Proper use of corticosteroid inhalers at the right dose can help sufferers of asthma to reduce and control their symptoms, maximize the function of the lungs, decrease the need for beta agonists (rescue remedies in instances of an asthma attack) and preventing the attacks themselves.
Many people in the United States use corticosteroid inhalers as the core part of their treatment plan against asthma, and it is often prescribed along with other medications and therapy to further help patients achieve a greater quality of life. With corticosteroids inhalers, people with asthma and other similar respiratory conditions can participate in normal levels of exercise in a safe way without risk of bringing on an attack or severe symptoms.
All of these benefits have been confirmed in numerous medical studies – in the United States and around the world. As a result, there are various different types and brands of corticosteroid inhaler that people can experiment with over the course of their lifetime. As one of the most common problems with corticosteroid is misuse of the drug by patients, it is important that health care professionals help the patient to establish the type of corticosteroid, dose and inhalant device that is most comfortable for them. Corticosteroid inhalers are intended as a long-term treatment and are most effective when taken at the same time of day, every day. Finding the right inhaler will encourage and help people to use the medication when they are supposed to and manage their condition and their breathing in as effective a way as possible. The right corticosteroid inhaler can be an invaluable medication for the patient throughout his or her lifetime.
Corticosteroid inhalers are the most preferable and recommended means of administering corticosteroids. The drug is also available as an oral tablet, which is prescribed to patients that are having severe bouts of asthma. However, it is always recommended that this oral application is a short-term treatment solution, and doctors will always look to move the patient to an inhaler as soon as possible. This is because, as an inhaler, the drug enters the lungs directly so only minimal amounts are absorbed into the body. This creates far fewer side effects and carries a far smaller risk of long-term health complications. Oral tablets, however, enable larger quantities of the substance to enter the bloodstream.
To summarize, the main benefits of using corticosteroid inhalers are as follows:
- Reduction in the number of asthma attacks and severity of attacks
- Reduced need for visits to the hospital for life-threatening bouts of asthma
- Better functioning of the lungs (long-term)
- Reduced need for the use of beta agonist brochnodilators (inhalers that are used to relieve the symptoms of an asthma attack)
- Improved breathing by reducing inflammation in the air passages