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Steroid Inhalers

Steroid inhalers usually contain corticosteroids and are used for asthma management. These are preventer inhalers, not rescue, so you may need these steroid inhalers to control asthma. These inhalers prevent asthma symptoms from developing.

List of main steroid medicines in the preventer inhalers:

  • Beclometasone
  • Budesonide
  • Ciclesonide
  • Fluticasone
  • Mometasone

How do they work?

Corticosteroids are potent biochemical substances that are present in our body. In fact, these are steroid hormones produced by the adrenal gland in human beings. Analogues of these steroid hormones are now synthesized in laboratories, which are used to get similar effects that of naturally occurring steroid hormones in the body.

These steroids regulate inflammation, immune responses, stress responses, metabolism and electrolyte levels.

In case of asthma, steroids reduce inflammation of the airways in the lungs and prevent wheezing and chest tightness. A main action of corticosteroids is on inflammation that occurs due to allergens or triggers in the lungs.

If you have a frequent flare ups of asthma symptoms, you may need to take a preventer inhaler containing steroid medications. Generally, steroid inhaler takes 7 to 14 days to build up effects in the body. Therefore, you may not get immediate relief from asthma symptoms.

After 7 to 14 days of the treatment with steroid inhalers, in most asthma patients, symptoms disappear. In some cases, steroid inhalers can take up to 6 weeks for complete relief.

If your asthma symptoms have completely disappeared, your health condition is stable, and the disease is under good control, your doctor may advise you to reduce the steroid dose. Thereafter, s/he can advise you to discontinue the treatment.

The current generation of steroid inhalers first began to be in use in the mid 1960’s. Anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid drugs work by reducing swelling, alleviating inflammation, lowering mucus production in the airways of the people suffer with asthma.

People, who have asthma or other lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe, may use an inhaler to get the medicine that they need into their lungs.

Doctors usually prescribe the medicine or drugs containing corticosteroids when your asthma cannot be controlled with other medicines, or if they are contraindicated in certain cases.

Inhaled steroids

When the drugs are inhaled, medicines pass directly or indirectly into the lungs, where they are required. The inhaled medicines do not pass through the other organs of the human body, where they have not been required. Thus, certain side effects can be avoided with the use of inhaled steroids rather than oral medications.

Side effects of steroid inhalers

The long-term use of steroids has been shown to cause many side effects, including mood changes, forgetfulness, hair loss, a tendency toward high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, and etc.

Children’s bones may be sensitive to the very small amounts of steroids that can enter the blood stream after inhalation. This might slow bone growth and reduce a child’s ultimate height.

Overall, the risk of side effects is very low with inhaled steroids, but several things can help to decrease side effects, as given below:

  1. Rinsing and spitting after each inhalation.
  2. Both, male and female adult patients, should consider 1000 to 15000 milligram of calcium and 400 to 800 units of vitamin D supplementation per day.
  3. If your child or any member, who are under inhaled steroid drugs, make sure about to use regularly. See the pediatrician, nutritionist or health care provider to prove that proper balanced nutrition growth are controlled and maintained.

Discontinuing steroid inhalers

If you have been taking steroids long-term, do not stop your steroids abruptly. During this time, your adrenal glands may not be functioning at full capacity and cannot handle stress to the body. Your doctor would ask to reduce the dosage gradually and then stopping the drugs.


As for any inhaled medication, it is crucially important that you use proper technique to inhale these medicines deep into your lungs. As a routine, you do not have to use a bronchodilator before taking the inhaled steroid or that you have to wait one minute between inhalations.

Steroids are usually not recommended in mild cases of asthma, but as the situation of asthma worsens in a patient, higher doses are administered, which means that steroids do have an impact on the frequency of the asthma episodes.