Skip to content

    Asthma Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Oral Steroids Quickly Increase Your Risk of Fracture

    continued...

    However, Johnston says the jury is still out on the need to prescribe bisphosphonates for everyone taking steroids because "everybody doesn't get fractures."

    The authors of the study, as well as Johnston and Manolagas, say the most puzzling aspect of the new finding is the speed at which the fracture risk increases. Manolagas tells WebMD that three months is too short a time for bone mineral density to significantly decrease. In his editorial, he suggests that the steroids may kill osteocytes, the most common type of bone cells. This cell death, called apoptosis, may increase the fracture risk, he says.

    Johnston says that Manolagas may be on the right track but he says he doubts that the cell death theory can explain "the finding that fracture risk can change so quickly." He says the answer may lie not in total bone mineral density loss but "in where you lose it and the site at which it is replaced."

    Vital Information:

    • Just three month's worth of oral steroids, which are commonly prescribed to patients with asthma and disorders of the joints and bowels, increased chances of sustaining fractures by 70%. The large European study shows these fractures can happen much faster than experts have expected.
    • When the oral steroids are stopped, the risk decreases at a similarly rapid rate.
    • Observers note treatment for osteoporosis should be included with oral steroid therapy, but they don't agree when bone protection should begin, since not everyone gets fractures. Doctors also are unsure of why the risk of fracture increases so quickly.
    1 | 2

    When Is Your Asthma Worse?

    When Is Your Asthma Worse?

    Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

    Start Now

    Today on WebMD

    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    5 common triggers.
    group jogging in park
    Should you avoid fitness activities?
     
    asthma inhaler
    Learn about your options.
    man feeling faint
    What’s the difference?
     
    Madison Wisconsin Capitol
    Slideshow
    woman wearing cpap mask
    Article
     
    red wine pouring into glass
    Slideshow
    Woman holding inhaler
    Quiz
     
    Man outdoors coughing
    Article
    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    Article
     
    10 Worst Asthma Cities
    Slideshow
    runner
    Article