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Steroid Medicine for Asthma: Myths and Facts

Overview

Medicine helps you breathe easier and keeps your asthma under control. Controller medicines help stop problems before they happen. They also reduce inflammation in your lungs. Quick-relief medicines are used when you can't prevent symptoms and need to treat them fast.

One of the best tools for managing asthma is a controller medicine that contains a steroid. But some people worry about taking steroid medicines for asthma because of myths they've heard about them.

If you're making a decision about using a steroid inhaler, it helps to know the facts.

Myth

Fact

No matter how you take steroid medicines, the side effects are the same.

The inhaled steroids in asthma medicine go just to the site of the problem—your lungs. This is different than the kind of steroid medicines you inject or take as a pill, which go throughout the body and are riskier.

Taking inhaled steroid medicines will make you grow muscles and hair.

The steroids in asthma medicine are a different type of steroid from the muscle-building, hair-growing kind. And because you inhale the medicine, it goes right to your lungs, where it's needed.

Taking inhaled steroids will stunt your child's growth.

For children, there may be a slight slowing in growth from inhaled steroids. The difference in height is very small, and this side effect is rare. But for most people, this is made up for by the improved ability to breathe because of the positive effects of the medicine.

footnote 1 footnote 2

You can control your asthma using only your quick-relief inhaler.

Many people will only find relief and get good control over their asthma by using controller medicine.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Guilbert TW, et al. (2006). Long-term inhaled corticosteroids in preschool children at high risk for asthma. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(19): 1985–1997.
  2. Kelly HW, et al. (2012). Effect of inhaled glucocorticoids in childhood on adult height. New England Journal of Medicine, 367(10): 904–912.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine

 

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