Uses of Inhalers in Asthma & Its Side Effects

Inhalers are commonly used in treating and managing asthma. Asthma is a common and chronic inflammatory ailment that primarily affects the airways in the lungs. Asthma is life threatening, yet manageable with various drugs and medications and is most often considered an inconvenience by those affected by this ailment. Medical advancements have made asthma fairly manageable and the credit for this most often goes to steroidal inhalers. As mentioned prior; asthma is a chronic illness and though inhaled steroids do not serve as a cure for asthma, they do alleviate the symptoms and discomfort associated with asthma. Read further to know more about the uses and side effects of inhalers.

Uses of Inhalers in Asthma & Its Side Effects

Uses of Inhalers in Asthma

As mentioned before steroidal inhalers are used to alleviate the symptoms of asthma, but let us elaborate on how inhaled steroids help asthma patients. The defining characteristic of asthma is blocking of the airways that allow an individual to breathe freely. This happens due to inflammation, swelling and excess mucus production in the airways of the lungs. Steroids are intrinsically anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce all the various symptoms of asthma including inflammation and swelling and clear up the airways to facilitate the ability to breathe freely. It is thus fair to say that steroidal inhalers are lifesaving drugs for those suffering from asthma.

Every time an individual is subject to an asthma attack; an appropriate dose of inhaled steroids can quickly alleviate the symptoms that impair breathing and actually save lives. While not all asthma attacks will result in death, inhaled steroids are often intrinsic to the management of asthma. Individuals suffering from asthma often carry these steroidal inhalers around to get quick relief as when an asthma attack happens. This allows those suffering from this ailment to live relatively normal lives and prevents disruption of daily chores and activities. The use of inhalers brings quick relief and simultaneously reduction for the need for hospitalization for an asthma attack. It is also important to note that any other delivery system for steroids will not have the quick acting affects of inhaled steroids; making steroidal use of inhalers of paramount importance to many individuals afflicted by chronic asthma.

It is also important to note that steroidal inhalers are not merely an emergency course of treatment for asthma symptoms. Individuals afflicted by asthma are advised by their primary physicians to take regular doses of inhaled steroids to better manage the symptoms of asthma and prevent inconvenient asthma attacks. Noticeable improvements in the symptoms of asthma are apparent after using inhaled steroids for 3 weeks and a daily dosage for 3 months largely cancels out the chances of an asthma attack. Hence it is easy to see that steroidal inhalers are largely used for regular treatment of chronic asthma.

Side Effects of Inhalers

Like any other prescription medications; inhaled steroids have their fair share of side effects. It is important to note here that not all individuals are susceptible to these side effects, but the primary side effects with the use of inhalers are as listed below.


Oral thrush, which is a yeast infection of the mouth, is a common side effect of inhaled steroids for asthma management that results in discoloration of the tongue and gums accompanied by hoarseness. This side effect of inhalers can be easily treated and also largely prevented by gargling and rinsing one’s mouth after inhaler use; however, it cannot be totally avoided by individuals using steroidal inhalers.


Weakness is a common side effect of inhalers, which is not as common place with short-term use as it is with long-term use. People suffering with chronic asthma often experience weakness after using inhaler for many years.

Miscellaneous Side Effects

  • People who depend upon systemic steroids in the form of inhalers for many years may experience all, few or none of the following side effects.
  • Prolonged use of systemic steroids in the form of inhalers may cause acne.
  • Weight gain can also be a common side effect of relying on steroidal inhaler for chronic asthma management.
  • Loss of bone density can also be brought on by prolonged use of systemic steroids in the form of inhalers.
  • Eye changes are also a common side effect of systemic steroids.
  • Children who depend on systemic steroids in the form of inhalers may also show signs of slow growth after prolonged use.

In conclusion, it is important to note that there are just a few and often rare side effects of steroidal inhalers. In fact inhalers are the safest delivery system for steroids needed to manage asthma. Steroids in pill form or when injected have much more adverse side effects than inhalers and are only prescribed in rare cases of an acute and prolonged asthma attack that needs aggressive treatment. The few side effects of steroidal inhalers are easily outweighed by the benefits of a convenient and largely safe steroidal delivery system that is universally favored by those afflicted by the asthma.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 30, 2019

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