How do oral corticosteroids treat asthma?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Corticosteroids reduce asthma symptoms by decreasing inflammation in the lungs. Corticosteroids such as prednisone that are taken by mouth (oral) are more effective than inhaled corticosteroids, but they also have more side effects.

Depending on the particular case, oral corticosteroids are considered if asthma symptoms are not controlled by either a combination of a high-dose inhaled corticosteroid and a leukotriene modifier or a combination of high-dose inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting inhaled beta-agonist. Before oral corticosteroids are prescribed as a long-term control medication, a two-week course of an oral corticosteroid is sometimes tried to determine whether it will be effective. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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