Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Asthma Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Inhaled Steroids Most Effective Treatment for Asthma

By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

May 22, 2001 -- Inhaled steroids are one of the principal treatments for asthma, but some patients try to avoid them. Now new research published in the May 23 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that inhaled steroids, either alone or in combination with other medications, remain the most effective treatment for chronic asthma.

Corticosteroids are used in asthma treatment to prevent or reduce airway swelling. These steroids are completely different from the anabolic steroids some athletes use to bulk up their muscles. However, the inhaled steroids used for asthma control sometimes do have harmful side effects such as mouth infections or weight gain. If used for long periods, they may lead to bone loss.

In addition to inhaled steroids, long-acting inhaled bronchodilators such as Serevent are also used to control asthma. Current treatment guidelines recommend these bronchodilators in addition to steroids, but not as the sole medication. However, these guidelines were based on expert opinion, not on clinical trials. Now the clinical trials have been done, and they support the guidelines.

"These studies show you can't use [Serevent] by itself to control asthma," says Gilbert D'Alonzo, DO. "It does give you some control of the disease, but you don't get optimal control. These studies show that even a low daily dose of inhaled steroids, when used in combination with [Serevent], provides better control of the disease." D'Alonzo is a professor of medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, in Philadelphia, Pa.

In one study, 164 people aged 12 to 65 with asthma controlled by a low dose of inhaled steroids either continued to get the steroid, or were switched to Serevent, or given a placebo (an inhaler with just the propellant but no medicine). The researchers, led by Dr. Stephen C. Lazarus, MD from the University of California, San Francisco, found that either steroid treatment or Serevent alone were better than nothing. However, the people who only got Serevent experienced so many treatment failures that the researchers concluded, "our findings indicate that [Serevent] should not be used as [sole therapy] for treatment of persistent asthma."

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