Inhaled corticosteroids are cortisone-like medicines. They are inhaled medicines that contain corticosteroids such as beclomethasone, ciclesonide, budesonide, flunisolide, mometasone, or fluticasone in a preparation that is designed to be inhaled through the mouth. Inhaled corticosteroids may help to prevent asthma attacks and significantly improve the functions of the lungs.
Inhaled corticosteroids act directly in the lungs, inhibiting the inflammatory process that causes asthma. They help in preventing the attacks of asthma and improving lung functions. Inhaled corticosteroids may also be used for the treatment of certain lung conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. Inhaled corticosteroids prevent certain lung cells and air passages from releasing substances that can cause the symptoms of asthma.
Inhaled corticosteroids may be administered with other medications for asthma, such as bronchodilators, which are medicines that can open up the breathing passages that have narrowed, or other corticosteroids to be taken by mouth.
Inhaled corticosteroids are delivered directly into the lungs, which means that smaller doses are needed to effectively control the symptoms of asthma compared to the dose needed if the same medication will be taken by mouth. Inhaled corticosteroids also reduce the possibility of side effects of the medicine.
Inhaled corticosteroids may be purchased only with the prescription of your doctor. Inhaled corticosteroids are also available in the following dosage forms:
Before using inhaled corticosteroids, you must inform your doctor if you have any allergic reaction or other unusual reactions to corticosteroid medications. Inform your healthcare professional if you have other types of allergies such as foods, preservatives, dyes, or animals.
Inhaled corticosteroids have been tested in children. Except for the slight possibility of stunted growth, inhaled corticosteroids in low doses have not shown to cause different side effects or reactions than they do in adult users.
Studies have established that reduced adrenal gland function or slowed growth may happen in some children that use inhaled corticosteroids in recommended doses. However, when asthma is poorly controlled, it may cause slow growth, especially when the corticosteroids are taken by mouth are required. The doctor will start a child using the lowest possible dose of inhaled corticosteroids that will control the symptoms of asthma. This will reduce the chance of an effect on adrenal function or growth.
Studies have not shown any relationship of age to the side effects of inhaled corticosteroids. No geriatric-specific problems have been reported on the use of inhaled corticosteroids.
Studies have established that the use of inhaled corticosteroids in pregnant women when used in regular doses during pregnancy to keep the mother’s symptoms of asthma under control. No reports have been submitted to the effect that inhaled corticosteroids can cause breathing problems or birth defects in newborn babies. Inhaled corticosteroids may also prevent the effects of poorly controlled asthma, which could be harmful to the baby. Before using inhaled corticosteroids, you must make sure that your doctor is aware that you are pregnant or if you might be pregnant.
It is not known if inhaled corticosteroids pass into the breast milk.