What are inhaled steroids for treating asthma?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective long-term control medications for persistent asthma. They reduce symptoms, improve lung function, and reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. They can be used alone or combined with other asthma medications.

Several inhaled corticosteroids are available in the US. These include beclomethasone (QVar), budesonide (Pulmicort), ciclesonide (Alvesco), flunisolide (AeroBid, Aerospan), fluticasone (Arnuity, Ellipta, Flovent), and mometasone (Asmanex). Some other products combine a corticosteroid with a long-acting beta-agonist bronchodilator in a single inhaler, such as Advair and Symbicort.

Some people take inhaled corticosteroids only when they have asthma symptoms. But a review of studies found that daily use of corticosteroids provided slightly better control, more symptom-free days, and less need for reliever medications.

Doubling the dose of an inhaled corticosteroid when symptoms worsen has not been shown to improve control. Using both a corticosteroid and a beta agonist in a single inhaler may control symptom flare-ups better than using a higher corticosteroid dose.

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.

Inhaled steroids for asthma are medications that are breathed in by using an inhaler device to deliver the medication to the lungs. The steroid medication helps to reduce inflammation in the lungs that contributes to the symptoms of asthma.

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