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Side Effects of Asthma Steroid Medication Explained

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Steroid medication is a type of medication that is used to treat asthma. This type of medication is also known as a corticosteroid. Steroid medication is used to treat the inflammation that is associated with asthma.

Steroid medication can be taken in different forms. The most common form of steroid medication is an inhaler. Inhalers are small, hand-held devices that deliver a measured dose of medication to the lungs. Inhalers are the most common type of asthma medication.

Other forms of steroid medication include:

Nasal sprays: Nasal sprays treat inflammation in the nasal passages. Nasal sprays are a type of steroid medication.

Oral steroids: Oral steroids are taken by mouth. Oral steroids are used to treat inflammation in the airways.

Injectable steroids: Injectable steroids are given by injection. Injectable steroids are used to treat inflammation in the airways.

Steroid medication is used to treat the symptoms of asthma. Steroid medication is not a cure for asthma.

Types of Asthma Medication

There are two types of asthma medication: long-term control and quick-relief medication. Long-term control medication is taken every day to prevent asthma attacks. Quick-relief medication is taken as needed to relieve symptoms during an asthma attack.

There are four main types of long-term control asthma medication:

Inhaled corticosteroids: These are the most effective type of long-term control medication. They reduce inflammation in the airways.

Leukotriene modifiers: These drugs block leukotrienes, chemicals that can cause asthma symptoms.

Long-acting beta-agonists: These drugs open the airways by relaxing the muscles around the airways.

Oral corticosteroids: These are taken by mouth and used for people with severe asthma or who cannot take inhaled corticosteroids.

There are two main types of quick-relief asthma medication:

Beta-agonists: These drugs open the airways by relaxing the muscles around the airways.

Anticholinergics: These drugs work by blocking a chemical called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine can cause asthma symptoms.

If you have asthma, your doctor will work with you to find the best medication.

Side Effects of Asthma Steroid Medication

Side Effects of Asthma Steroid Medication

People with asthma use corticosteroids as long-term medication to control asthma. Steroid side effects are noteworthy, and the patient should be aware before being prescribed the medication.

There are two types of medications that asthma patients use. They are the ‘quick-relief’ medicines and ‘preventer’ medicines. Corticosteroids are preventer medicines that are used to minimize the inflammation of the airways in the lungs.

Steroid side effects that are frequently encountered in asthma patients include both the common side effects and the serious side effects.

Corticosteroid functions are similar to cortisol, a hormone that is released by the adrenal gland in the body.

Some of the side effects that may occur due to the long-term consumption of corticosteroids are as follows:

Fungal infections

The most common side effect of corticosteroids is that they cause oral candidiasis or thrush.

It is a fungal infection of the mouth. It can be easily treated and even prevented by regularly rinsing the mouth after inhaling the medication. They do not cause fungal infections in the lungs.

Hoarseness of voice

It is commonly encountered when corticosteroids are inhaled. This can be minimized by lowering the doses of corticosteroids. In extreme cases, corticosteroids need to be discontinued.


The tendency of the body to get bruised easily increases with the use of corticosteroids.

Weight gain

People taking steroids should be concerned about their dietary intake as steroids cause an increase in weight through increased appetite in patients.

Other Steroid side effects

Other steroid side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Gain of appetite.

These side effects are less common and are encountered only with high doses of inhaled steroids.

Proper dosage and an appropriate corticosteroid can minimize the side effects for people suffering from persistent asthma.

It should be noted that an asthma patient needs to consult his doctor before taking any herbal supplement to control asthma.

Steroids are also prescribed in tablet form if it becomes difficult to control and are used in cases of “severe” attack. These steroids produce more side effects when compared to those taken by inhalation.

Side Effects of Steroid drugs like Prednisone

Steroid side effects resulting from short-term use of oral steroid drugs like prednisone include:

  • Indigestion
  • Bloating of stomach
  • Sleeplessness
  • The blurring of vision.

Women’s menstrual cycle may get affected, and they may also suffer from vaginal yeast infections.

Rare complications include triggering the onset of diabetes, loss of reality (psychosis), and injury to bones in a joint.

How to Minimize Steroid Side Effects?

To minimize these side effects, one should take steroid tablets and food to minimize stomach upset.

One can also take an antacid to reduce the feeling of bloating. One needs to minimize salt intake to prevent fluid retention due to oral steroid tablet consumption. Over-the-counter medicines are available to treat vaginal infections in women.

Examples of inhaled steroids for asthma include Advair, Aerobid, Flovent, and Pulmicort.

Examples of oral steroids in tablet form include prednisone and prednisolone.

On the other hand, long-term use of oral steroid tablets (weeks to years) can suppress the adrenal gland leading to a cortisol deficiency. The body then becomes susceptible to infections due to lower immunity.


It is important to be aware of the potential side effects of asthma steroid medication. These side effects can range from mild to severe and can even be deadly.

If you or a loved one are taking this type of medication, it is important to be monitored closely by a doctor.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is for educational purposes only, always check with your medical doctor before stopping any prescription medications or when implementing any dietary and lifestyle changes.

Healthlyious has strict sourcing guidelines, believes in trustworthy and reliable sources, and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, medical journal publications, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

  • Steroids for asthma: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/inhalers-medicines-treatments/steroids/
  • Steroid inhalers: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/steroid-inhalers/


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