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Asthma Treatment with Steroids

Steroids are often used drug for the treatment of asthma in children. Currently, they are one of the most effective drugs used for treating asthma.

Common types of used steroids are: prednisolone, budesonide, Hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, fludrocortisone and methylprednisolone. These steroids are known as corticosteroids.

Inhaled Steroids

For asthma treatment, inhaled corticosteroids are given to children. In the past, injected or oral corticosteroids in heavy doses were used but they also included severe adverse effects.

Inhaled steroids reduce airway inflammation and mucus production. The use of inhaled steroids provides better asthma control and reduces need for hospitalization. Even though inhaled steroids prevent asthma symptoms they don’t relieve the existing symptoms.

Asthma inhalers include: advair, Aerobid, Asmanex, Azmacort, Flovent, pulmicort, Symbicort and Qvar.

Three forms of inhaled steroids are available: the meter dose inhaler (MDI), dry powder inhaler (DPI) and nebulizer solutions.

Side Effects of Steroids in Children

Side effects of steroids are frequently seen in children. They can affect adults as well, but children are more prone to such adverse effects. These effects are usually only temporary and stop when therapy is finished.

Side effects of steroids in children can be:

  • Thrush and yeast infection. This side effect is more common in adults due to higher doses. To prevent this, children should rinse the mouth with antifungal mouthwash after using asthma inhaler.
  • Affected growth and thinner bones. This may happen if steroids are taken over a long period of time and in high doses. Some studies indicate that delayed growth will occur only in the first year of treatment. Exact reason for thinning of bones is unknown since the bone density isn’t affected in adults.
  • Adrenal suppression. It is one of the main side effects of corticosteroids in children. Steroids are naturally produced in the body by the adrenal glands. Body’s ability to produce steroids is significantly impaired when it receives steroids from other sources. This may cause some health problems in children.
  • Weight gain. Children may gain weight due to increased appetite.
  • Stomach irritation. To reduce this side effect, steroids should be taken with meals.
  • Changes in behavior. Usually temporary effect of steroids includes mood swings. A child can also become irritable.
  • High blood pressure. Child may experience headache and dizziness.
  • Raised blood sugar level. This can be only temporary. Signs of increased blood sugar level are unusual thirst and frequent urination.

All in all, corticosteroids have more benefits than negative effects. They prevent the symptoms and lethal outcome in children suffering from asthma.

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