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How Do Steroids Help Asthma?

January 29, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 178

Steroids are a common treatment option for people suffering from asthma. Often used in combination with an anti-inflammatory drug, the steroids help reduce inflammation in the lungs and airways. Steroids also help dry out excessive mucus production. They successfully reduce the irritation that can trigger an episode. The drugs can safely eliminate or reduce attacks.

Cortisteroids and steroids are usually used together. The drugs are usually inhaled or taken orally. Leukotriene modifier drugs, mast cell stabilizers and immunomodulators, known as IgE blockers, work with steroids to control the sufferer's attacks.

The most effective steroids are inhaled by the sufferer. Overtime, the drug quickly reduces airway inflammation and dries up mucus. Inhaled steroids will reduce the severity of the attacks and lessen their occurrence. This will help reduce the need for hospitalization.

A sufferer must take inhaled steroids daily to be effective. The person will begin to experience less attacks in one to three weeks using an inhaled steroid. The best effects take up to three weeks to achieve.

Three forms of inhaled steroids are available: dry powder inhalers, nebulizers and metered dose inhalers. Inhaled steroids work well for both adults and children. The sufferer will initially be prescribed a low dose. Inhaled steroids have very few side effects. In high doses a person may develop thrush. If thrush develops, it is usually treated with an anti-fungal mouthwash.

Over time and continued use of inhaled steroids, the sufferer will become less dependent on reliever inhalers, known as beta-agonist bronchodilators. Patients who respond well to inhale steroids will be advised to reduce their dosage as the airways suffer less inflammation.

People who suffer from severe attacks require systemic steroids such as prednisone. Systemic steroids treat excessive attacks or help control extreme long-term attacks. The drugs take approximately three hours after ingestion to take effect and do not reach full potential for six to 12 hours after ingestion. Systemic steroids are often prescribed in large doses over the course of a few days for immediate control. For long-term treatment, systemic steroids are prescribed in a low dose for years.

Side effects of systemic steroids can appear months or years later. Systemic steroids may cause weight gain, acne, upset stomach, bone loss, eye problems or personality disorders. Children may experience growth delays. Short term use rarely causes side effects.

Many patients cease taking steroids because they begin to suffer less asthma attacks. Despite the reduced attacks, the airways can still remain inflamed. A patient should never reduce or cease taking a steroid unless advised to do so by the prescribing doctor. A chronic condition, the disorder often lasts a lifetime and steroids will always be required to control it. Some people can successfully cease taking the steroids if advised to do so by a physician.

Mithul Mistry is writing on behalf of Pure O2, specialists in Asthma.

Source: EzineArticles
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