The Basics of Asthma and COPD
Asthma and COPD are two respiratory conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to difficulty breathing, wheezing, and coughing. COPD, on the other hand, is a progressive lung disease that makes it hard to breathe due to damaged airways.
Inhaled Steroids: How Do They Work?
Inhaled steroids, also known as corticosteroids, are a type of medication used to control and prevent inflammation in the airways. They work by reducing the production of inflammatory substances in the body, such as cytokines and leukotrienes, which cause swelling and mucus production in the airways.
The Benefits of Inhaled Steroids
Inhaled steroids are considered one of the most effective treatments for asthma and COPD. They can help reduce airway inflammation, prevent exacerbations, and improve lung function. In addition, inhaled steroids are generally well-tolerated and have fewer side effects than oral steroids.
When Are Inhaled Steroids Prescribed?
Inhaled steroids are typically prescribed for people with persistent asthma, meaning they experience symptoms more than twice a week. They may also be prescribed for people with COPD who have frequent exacerbations, or flare-ups, of their symptoms.
How to Use Inhaled Steroids
Inhaled steroids come in various forms, such as metered-dose inhalers, dry powder inhalers, and nebulizers. It’s important to use them as directed by your healthcare provider to get the most benefit. In general, you should inhale the medication deeply into your lungs, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly.
Possible Side Effects of Inhaled Steroids
Although inhaled steroids are generally safe, they can cause some side effects, such as hoarseness, throat irritation, and oral thrush. To minimize these side effects, it’s important to rinse your mouth with water after using the inhaler and use a spacer device if recommended by your healthcare provider.
Combination Therapy: Inhaled Steroids and Long-Acting Bronchodilators
For some people with asthma and COPD, a combination of inhaled steroids and long-acting bronchodilators may be necessary to control their symptoms. Long-acting bronchodilators, such as salmeterol and formoterol, help relax the airway muscles and keep the airways open.
The Importance of Regular Monitoring
If you’re using inhaled steroids to treat asthma or COPD, it’s important to have regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. They can monitor your symptoms, lung function, and medication use to ensure that your treatment is working effectively.
The Bottom Line
Inhaled steroids are an essential medication for people with asthma and COPD. They can help reduce airway inflammation, prevent exacerbations, and improve lung function. If you have these conditions, talk to your healthcare provider about whether inhaled steroids are right for you.