What is inhaled corticosteroids?

Inhaled Corticosteroids
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What are some examples of inhaled corticosteroids?

Here are some examples of inhaled corticosteroids. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.

  • beclomethasone (QVAR)
  • budesonide (Pulmicort)
  • fluticasone (Flovent)
  • mometasone (Asmanex Twisthaler)

This is not a complete list of these medicines.

What are common myths and facts about using steroid medicine for asthma?

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.



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.

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.

Your Corticosteroid Inhaler: Making It Easier to Breathe

What are some cautions about inhaled corticosteroids for asthma?

Cautions for inhaled corticosteroids for asthma include the following:

  • For controller medicines to work, you need to take them every day.
  • Controller medicines don't help right away when you're having an asthma attack. They act too slowly.
  • Always rinse your mouth after you use a corticosteroid inhaler. This can help you avoid thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth.

Why are inhaled corticosteroids used?

Inhaled corticosteroids are used to help:

  • You breathe better.
  • Prevent and improve your asthma symptoms.
  • Reduce asthma attacks.

These medicines are commonly used to treat asthma. They work well and are considered very safe. They are the preferred medicines for controlling asthma over the long term. There are also other types of controller medicines.

How do inhaled steroids affect a child's growth?

Some parents worry that children who use inhaled steroid (corticosteroid) medicines may not grow as tall as other children.

  • A very small difference in height and growth was found in children using these medicines compared to children not using them.
  • And one study showed a very small difference in height (about 1 cm) in adults who used inhaled steroid medicines as children compared to adults who did not use these medicines.

But the use of inhaled steroids has important health benefits for children who have asthma. If you are worried about the effects of these medicines on your child, talk with your doctor.

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