Asthma and Inhaled Steroids
"Steroids" are a family of chemicals normally made within the body. They serve as hormones—chemical signals that help to regulate the body's growth and function. Some steroid hormones, like testosterone, stimulate formation of protein and growth of muscle.
As for any inhaled medication, it is crucially important that you use proper technique to inhale these medicines deep into your lungs. We do not feel that, as a routine, you have to use a bronchodilator before taking the inhaled steroid or that you have to wait one minute between inhalations. In most instances we do encourage the use of spacer devices with your inhaled steroids.
Most of the inhaled steroid medicines are prescribed at a dose of 2 to 4 inhalations per day. At times, larger doses are needed and can prove to be very effective in controlling otherwise difficult-to-control asthma.
Here are the different types of steroid inhaler (with their brand names):
- Beclometasone (Beclazone, Qvar)
- Budesonide (Pulmicort)
- Fluticasone (Flixotide)
- Mometasone (Asmanex)
- Ciclesonide (Alvesco)
You'll also have a quick-relief inhaler to treat asthma symptoms as they happen. You'll need to use your quick-relief inhaler to treat symptoms when you get them. And you'll use your steroid inhaler regularly to prevent asthma symptoms. You normally breathe these drugs into your lungs with an inhaler. The drug is stored in a small aerosol can attached to a mouthpiece. When you breathe in, some of the drug is released. Taking the drug this way means it gets straight to your lungs. If you find it difficult to use your inhaler, you may like to try another type of inhaler. For instance, some inhalers use a spray, others use a powder. Your doctor will be able to explain the different kinds.