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What should I know about the steroids used in asthma medication?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

The following contains useful information about steroid-based asthma medications.

Aerobid
Aerobid is intended for long-term prevention of asthma symptoms, not emergency treatment. The medicine, an inhaled steroid called flunisolide, will not work fast enough to open your airways and help you breathe if you are in the middle of an asthma attack. For immediate relief, use a rescue inhaler, which contains fast-acting medication.

If you have questions about effective fast-acting medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Aerobid is no longer available. CFC-containing inhalers, including Aerobid, will be removed from the U.S. market by the FDA. June 30, 2011, is the last date that Aerobid will be manufactured, sold or dispensed in United States.

Aerospan
Do not use Aerospan to stop an asthma attack. The steroid drug in Aerospan HFA can help prevent asthma symptoms over the long term, but it is not an emergency treatment. The medicine will not work fast enough to help you if you are having an asthma attack. For immediate relief, you need fast-acting medication, like the drugs in a rescue inhaler.

It can take two to four weeks for the Aerospan’s maximum benefits to kick in. Some people experience severe breathing problems right after using their Aerospan inhaler (this happens most often with the first dose from a new inhaler). If that happens, use your rescue inhaler right away and seek medical care at once.

If after four weeks of using Aerospan, you do not see any change in your symptoms or think they are getting worse, contact your health care provider.

Azmacort
Azmacort treats bronchial asthma by reducing inflammation and swelling in the lungs. It also reduces the production of phlegm. You may also notice the reduction in other symptoms associated with asthma.

QVAR
QVAR (beclomethasone) is not a fast-acting inhaler that will stop or treat an asthma attack that's already in progress. Rather, QVAR is designed to help lower the number of asthma attacks a person suffers over the long-term.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.