Asthma: Who Needs Steroid Inhalers?

Charles always suffered from episodes of breathlessness and wheezing, despite being on a particular inhaler. These episodes were the only times when the bright smile on Charles’ face dimmed. But the story changed following a visit to a doctor who specialized in diseases of the lungs such as asthma. The doctor prescribed a new inhaler in addition to the one he already used, a steroid inhaler. This helped Charles overcome the days of breathlessness and wheezing, and he remained happy thereafter.



Inhalers are medical devices that deliver medications directly to the airways and lungs. Asthma is an example of conditions that require inhalers in their management. There are different inhaled medications and steroids are a common one. 

Steroid inhalers deliver corticosteroid (steroid) medications to the airways and the lungs directly. Steroids reduce the inflammation and swelling in the airways. Inhaled steroids, therefore, make breathing easier for individuals with asthma. 


Who needs steroid inhalers?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways, in which patients have episodic symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, breathlessness, and chest tightness. Steroids are important in treating some asthma patients. When used appropriately, inhaled steroids can reduce the frequency of asthma “attacks” (exacerbations).

Those with persistent difficulty breathing out (i.e., exhaling) can also benefit from steroids. These symptoms indicate a severity that the other inhaled medications used in the management of asthma (called bronchodilators) cannot take care of alone. Different types and doses of steroids can be prescribed by a health care provider based on how severe the symptoms are. A steroid inhaler may be recommended every day to keep symptoms at bay while a bronchodilator is reserved to relieve symptoms when they come up.  

Side effects of steroid inhalers

Generally, steroid inhalers are safe and effective, but they have potential side effects. These side effects range from oral thrush and hoarseness to a low risk of osteoporosis following long-term use at a high dose. But, as with most medications, the benefits outweigh the risks, as steroid inhalers have the benefit of controlling airway inflammation. The instructions from your healthcare provider concerning the use of steroid inhalers should be followed.  Any concerns about side effects should be promptly reported.


Steroid inhalers are useful medications for the management of a wide range of respiratory diseases. Because inhalers deliver medication directly to the lungs, they help reduce the inflammation seen in these diseases. Therefore, they ease symptoms and improve overall lung function. Individuals with asthma who continue to have troubling symptoms should see their healthcare provider to determine if a steroid inhaler is suitable for them.


More Articles