There are two groups of medicines used for the treatment of asthma and other chronic bronchial obstructive disorders and both of them go hand in hand together to maintain the best control over the illness. The first group are the bronchodilators which are used to expand the bronchi or the airways in the lungs, during an asthmatic attack and give quick relief. The second group are the corticosteroids which are used to decrease the inflammation of the airways in the lungs and are taken as prevention and control. These corticosteroids belong to a group of steroids which are similar to one of the hormones produced naturally in the body, called cortisol. Even though corticosteroids are often referred to as simply steroids they should not be mixed with the steroids popularly used by athletes to increase performance as their function and origin are very different.
Corticosteroids are most often used as inhalers containing a low dose of the medicine, but can sometimes come in the form of tablets with a higher dose of the medicine. The steroids do not provide quick relief because they help control future inflammations and therefore decrease the number of asthmatic attacks, but also stop the lungs from being too sensitive in cases of severe attacks. The inhalers come in a variety of colors, usually brown, purple, rep, pink or orange. Higher doses of corticosteroids in the form of tablets are usually given for short courses of time when the symptoms become very bad. Even though they come in the form of tablets they are extremely effective and quick to work.
These steroids are taken for long courses of time and have certain possible side effects that may pose a concern. Some of these are the following: fungal infections, such as thrush which could develop in the mouth due to the inhalers, but that can be resolved by rinsing the mouth after every inhalation; some groups of people complain about their voices becoming hoarse; bruises may appear because of the use of corticosteroids, but the side effects are lower than in the case of corticosteroid tablets; corticosteroids may increase appetite so people should take care of adjusting their dietary habits to avoid weight gain.
What is important is that all of the side effects can be decreased to a minimum if the doctor's prescriptions are followed regularly. Doses can always be readjusted in the case of any side effects become persistent and medication can be changed but what is important is that the doctor should be consulted in case of any complications.