Asthma and Steroids Children’s Asthma Service Information Leaflet

About asthma and steroids

Steroids are the most effective way of controlling inflammation (redness & soreness) in the lungs.

Steroids used in asthma are corticosteroids. These are naturally made in our bodies by the adrenal gland. When you use a steroid inhaler or steroid tablets, you add to this natural corticosteroid.

Steroids used to treat asthma are taken in two main ways:

  • Steroid inhalers (preventers)
  • Steroid tablets (prednisolone)

Steroid inhalers

You should be prescribed a steroid inhaler if you:

  • Are breathless, cough or have a tight chest during everyday activities more than 2-3 times a week
  • Need to use your reliever inhaler more than once a day
  • Have sleep disturbed by cough or chest tightness each week.

As the protective effect of the steroid builds up, you will be less likely to have asthma attacks, be less breathless during the day & night & not need to use your reliever inhaler as often.

Steroid inhalers:

  • Give low doses straight to the airways.
  • Need to be taken everyday, even if you are feeling well, to build up their protective effect.
  • Don’t give immediate or quick relief when you are breathless, but reduce long-term inflammation.
  • Are usually brown, red or orange inhalers.

Steroid inhalers are safe & the possibility of side effects low but there is a small risk of a sore throat, hoarse voice or mouth infection (thrush).

Brushing your teeth & rinsing your mouth after using steroid inhalers will help avoid this. You will not put on weight or become muscular from using inhaled steroids.

Steroid tablets

Short courses of steroid tablets are essential emergency treatment in sudden acute attacks, not controlled by preventer & reliever inhalers.

Steroid tablets:

  • Give large doses to reduce inflammation quickly within a few hours.
  • Are usually given as short courses, usually for 3-5 days, to control asthma attacks.

If you finish a course of steroid tablets but are not back to normal, you should visit your doctor.

Steroid tablets may increase your appetite & indirectly lead to you putting on weight.

Any weight gain in response to steroid tablets is usually temporary.

For more useful information

Children’s Asthma Nursing Service
Longsight Health Centre
Stockport Road
Longsight
Manchester
M13 0RR

Telephone: 0161 248 1226

Asthma UK Adviceline:
Telephone: 0300 222 5800
Website: www.asthma.org.uk

Who provides this service?

The Children’s Asthma Service is provided by Manchester Local Care Organisation.

MLCO is the organisation that provides NHS community health care and adult social care in the city. It is a partnership organisation between the NHS and Manchester City Council.