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    Asthma Treatment: Steroids and Other Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

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    The key treatments for asthma are steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs. These asthma drugs both help to control asthma and prevent asthma attacks.

    Steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs work by reducing inflammation, swelling, and mucus production in the airways of a person with asthma. As a result, the airways are less inflamed and less likely to react to asthma triggers , allowing people with symptoms of asthma to have better control over their condition.

    What Are the Main Types of Steroids and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Asthma?

    The main types of anti-inflammatory drugs for better asthma control are steroids or corticosteroids. Other anti-inflammatory treatments include leukotriene modifiers and immunomodulators.

    What Are Inhaled Steroids?

    Inhaled steroids are the mainstay treatment for controlling asthma. The use of inhaled steroids leads to:

    • Better asthma control
    • Fewer symptoms and flare-ups
    • Reduced need for hospitalization

    Steroids may help asthma symptoms during an attack but are slow acting and can take several hours to take effect. Dosages of inhaled steroids in asthma inhalers vary.

    Inhaled steroids need to be taken daily for best results. Some improvement in asthma symptoms can be seen in 1 to 3 weeks after starting inhaled steroids, with the best results seen after 3 months of daily use.

    Inhaled steroid medications for better asthma control include:

    • Beclomethasone dipropionate (Qvar)
    • Budesonide (Pulmicort)
    • Budesonide/Formoterol (Symbicort) - a combination drug that includes a steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator drug
    • Fluticasone (Flovent)
    • Fluticasone inh powder (Arnuity Ellipta)
    • Fluticasone/Salmeterol (Advair) - a combination drug that includes a steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator drug
    • Mometasone (Asmanex)
    • Mometasone/formoterol (Dulera) - a combination drug that also includes a long-acting bronchodilator drug

    Inhaled steroids come in three forms: the metered dose inhaler (MDI), dry powder inhaler (DPI), and nebulizer solutions.

    What Are the Side Effects of Inhaled Steroids?

    Inhaled steroids have few side effects, especially at lower doses. Thrush (a yeast infection in the mouth) and hoarseness may occur, although this is rare. Rinsing the mouth, gargling after using the asthma inhaler, and using a spacer device with metered dose inhalers can help prevent these side effects. Thrush is easily treated with a prescription antifungal lozenge or rinse.

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