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Oral Steroids for Breathing Problems

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KEY POINTS

  • Oral steroids are medicines used to treat breathing problems caused by asthma. They do not provide quick relief for acute attacks.
  • Make sure you know how and when your child needs to take the medicine. Your child should not take more or less than he or she is supposed to take.
  • Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what side effects the medicine may cause, and what you should do if your child has side effects.

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What are these medicines used for?

Oral steroids are often given for short periods of time to treat asthma symptoms. Your child may need to take steroids for several days even if your child is not having symptoms. They do not provide quick relief of wheezing in acute asthma attacks. For acute asthma attacks, your child will need a different type of medicine called a reliever.

Your child's asthma symptoms are caused by two different problems in the airways:

  • One problem is that the muscles in the airways tighten up, which causes the feeling of chest tightness and wheezing.
  • The other problem is swelling, irritation and too much mucus in the airways.

Your child's asthma symptoms often start after exposure to a trigger. Asthma triggers can include pollen, animals, mold, colds, exercise, cold air, and air pollutants. It is important for you and your child to know what things trigger your child's asthma. Help your child avoid the things that trigger his asthma. Your child should keep his reliever medicine with him at all times in case he has an asthma attack.

How do they work?

Oral steroids are similar to hormones made by your body. They block some of the chemicals that cause irritation and swelling. By lessening the swelling, you will have fewer symptoms and be able to breathe better.

Oral steroids can be taken as pills, chewable tablets, or syrup.

What else do I need to know about this medicine?

  • Follow the directions that come with your child’s medicine, including information about food. Make sure you know how and when your child needs to take the medicine. Your child should not take more or less than he or she is supposed to take.
  • Try to get all of your child’s prescriptions filled at the same place. Your pharmacist can help make sure that all of your child’s medicines are safe to take together.
  • Keep a list of your child’s medicines with you. List all of the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that your child takes. Tell all healthcare providers who treat your child about all of the products your child takes.
  • Many medicines have side effects. A side effect is a symptom or problem that is caused by the medicine itself. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what side effects the medicine may cause and what you should do if your child has side effects.

If you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information. Be sure to keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2016.4 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2016-06-27
Last reviewed: 2016-06-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.
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