If you are asthmatic, your doctor has prescribed some medication for you and told you what to do to control asthma attacks. However, in some conditions, asthma may be severe, making it hard to control. Your asthma is termed severe when you have symptoms and complications even after receiving proper treatment. In such cases, your doctor might prescribe some steroids to help control your situation. The common steroid used for asthma treatment is prednisone. Let us get to see what you need to know about steroid treatment.
What Are Steroids?
Steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs, and they are effective in the treatment of asthma and other lung-related diseases. The steroids are taken orally, inhaled, or injected, and they open the airway it had blocked due to an asthma attack. Mostly, your doctor will prescribe steroids when you have severe asthma symptoms, but you do not need hospitalization. If you get hospitalized due to a severe asthma attack, your doctor will administer steroids intravenously, and it will calm the situation.
How Does Steroids Treat Asthma?
For some asthmatic people, it gets to a time when they cannot breathe well or at all, and such a situation requires emergency medical attention. When you have a severe asthma attack, your tissue is inflamed, and the airway blocks. This makes your airway irritated and puffy, resulting in difficulty in breathing, leading to wheezing and coughing. Steroids, for instance, prednisone, are anti-inflammatory, meaning they work as steroid hormones.
When you take steroids orally, your body absorbs it, and when you inhale it, it gets straight to the lungs. The steroid acts as a steroid hormone and causes a chemical reaction that will stop inflammatory compounds. Inflammation results from immune system response, and when the body stops producing inflammatory compounds, the immune system response decreases. This will reduce inflammation of the tissues and also stabilize the allergy required density. When swelling symptoms reduce, the airways open, mucus production reduces, and breathing becomes more manageable.
Are Steroids Effective In Asthma Treatment?
Through medical trials, various people who took steroids after arrival in emergency rooms recovered after eighteen to thirty-six hours. Also, most people who took steroids after a doctor’s prescription had reduced asthma attacks. Most doctors would prescribe prednisone instead of other steroids because it helps the body overcome asthma attacks easily. The effectiveness of steroids depends on how severe your asthma is.
In some cases, the doctor might prescribe high doses of steroids, which is called steroid burst. If needed to control long-term asthma, the steroids are taken in few doses for a long time. Other times, the steroids work effectively in a tapered schedule. This is whereby you start with a high dosage; then, you keep reducing the amount you take.
The doctor might change your dosage until they get the dosage that is effective for your situation. It is essential to take the steroids just as per what your doctors said. Steroids might become more effective if you combine them with other medications that you take over the counter. However, your doctor needs to be aware of the other medication.
Is There a Problem When You Frequently Take Steroids for Treatment of Asthma?
When you have severe asthma, you might become dependent on steroids to control your asthma attacks. However, like any other drug, long-term usage of steroids might cause some side effects to your body. Suppose you take steroids for a while, and there are no significant changes. In that case, there are chances that you have poor control of airway inflammation, or you keep exposing yourself to unsuspected allergens.
In such situations, you will need to discuss with your doctor what to do. Your doctor might increase your dosage or opt for an inhaler or injection, that is, if you were using oral steroids initially. Additionally, acute asthma might be hard to treat. Your doctor will know what medication to combine with steroids to enhance effectiveness.
What Are the Side Effects of Using Steroids for Asthma Treatment.
The potential side effects vary when you use them for a short while and a long while. However, the side effects are more serious when you use the steroids orally, in high doses, and long term. The side effects for short-term usage of steroids include:
- High blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Fluid retention
- Increased appetite
- Elevated blood sugar
- Lack of sleep
The short-term effects are less severe, but when you take the steroid for a long time, the effects become intense, and you also experience other additional effects. The side effects of long-term usage of steroids include:
- Muscle weakness
- Susceptibility to infections
- Stomach upset
- Thinning of the skin
- Thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
- Weight gain after a while
- Cataracts of the eye
- Growths suppression when given to children
- Anxiety and depression
- Behavioral and mood changes
Even though long-term usage of steroids has severe side effects, the doctor might still prescribe long-term usage. In such a case, do not stop using the steroid suddenly. Instead, reduce the dosage slowly until when you stop taking it. When you stop taking the steroids immediately, you may have some symptoms like dizziness, vomiting, and unending thirst.
When To Use Inhaled Steroids
In most cases, when your asthma is becoming hard to control, inhaled steroids are opted for. This is because inhaled steroids have minimal to no side effects. Some of the side effects of inhaled steroids are hoarseness of the voice and oral thrush, and it commonly occurs in the elderly. The inhaled steroids are effective when you use them once a day, preventing asthma symptoms. The inhaled steroids go directly to the lungs and prevent swelling; this is unlike the oral steroids, which pass through the bloodstream before acting on the tissues. In most cases, when you start using inhaled steroids, it would be best to reduce the use of oral steroids.
Steroids are an effective treatment for severe asthma. However, it is essential when you discuss it with your doctor before using it. For instance, if you have diabetes, steroids might not be a good option because it elevates sugar levels. Take note of the side effects before starting to use steroids as a treatment for your asthma condition.