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Side Effects of Steroids for Asthma

written by: CoDayDreamer • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 3/7/2011

Learn more about the side effects of asthma steroids. Asthma steroid medication can be very beneficial for a patient. Side effects should be reduced when possible. This is often accomplished by change of dosage, medication type and frequency.

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    Overview

    The side effects of asthma steroids can range from mild to severe. The risks and benefits of any medication, including steroids, should be discussed with a physician. Inhaled steroids are often prescribed as maintenance medication to try to prevent asthma attacks from occurring. An asthma attacks occurs where there is inflammation of the bronchial tubes. This often occurs when there is an an irritant such as cigarette smoke.

    There are many different types of steroids such as Advair, Aerobed, Asmanex, Azmacort, Dulera, Flovent, Pulmicort, Symbicort and Qvar. You may also be prescribed steroids when an asthma attack is occurring to quickly stop the effects of the attack. Steroids used for asthma are available in a tablet, nebulizer solution, injection, metered dose inhaler and dry powder inhaler. The kind prescribed will depend on the severity of the asthma condition and the location it is being used in (injections typically at the hospital).

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    Potential Side Effects

    • Dry mouth
    • Irritated throat
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Lightheadedness
    • Heartburn
    • Altered taste sensation
    • Restlessness
    • Nervousness
    • Trembling
    • Sweating
    • Oral thrush
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    Variances in Side Effects

    The severity of symptoms from the side effects of the medication may vary. The brand name and dosage may also cause the side effect symptoms to vary. As with all medications, including steroids, the minimum dosage and time for use to resolve or abate symptoms is typically prescribed. Some symptoms such as sweating may occur while your body is becoming accustomed to the medication.

    Communication of side effects should occur with a physician. If there are severe side effects such as difficulty breathing, chest pain and/or a heartbeat that is pounding, medical attention should be sought immediately. These side effects can be dangerous and life threatening.

    Signs of an allergic reaction to an asthma steroid include a rash, difficulty breathing, itching, swelling and dizziness. These symptoms should be brought to the attention of a medical professional right away.

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    Reduction of Side Effect Symptoms

    The following may assist in a reduction or elimination of the side effects of asthma steroids:

    • Communication with the physician about side effects including frequency and intensity of side effects.
    • Communication with the physician about additional medications added or being used.
    • Understanding of and correct usage of the dose prescribed. If medication is necessary more often then prescribed, the physician should be notified to reassess medication or dosage. Medication should never be self adjusted unless a physician has recommended such an adjustment.
    • Proper use of equipment, such as nebulizer machine or inhaler. If equipment is not used correctly, the dosage reaching the body may not be effective to treat asthma symptoms. A physician can do a demonstration of proper usage and provide literature for use at home.
    • Reducing individual side effects when possible, such as a using ice chips for a dry mouth.
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    References

    Web MD: Asthma: Overview & Facts: http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/asthma-overview-facts

    MedicineNet: Bronchodilator - Aerosol Oral Inhaler: http://www.medicinenet.com/bronchodilator-aerosol_oral_inhaler/article.htm