Safety of steroid inhalers (Preventers)

In children with ‘Asthma’, who are needing the rescue inhaler (usually Salbutamol, blue), very often or are getting recurrent wheezy symptoms, Steroid inhalers are prescribed.

Inflammation of the airways is a major problem in asthma, which narrows the airways, making it difficult for children to breathe.


Salbutamol (reliever) helps dilate these airways and is given at the time of an acute attack. Steroids are excellent ‘anti-inflammatory’ agents which help to control that and make the condition better. They are sometimes given regularly to prevent airways reacting badly and thereby stopping the acute attacks.

Steroid do have side effects, mainly if used long term, in HIGH DOSES, systemically (in blood). They can reduce the immunity, making you prone to infection, growth etc. BUT, the doses that are commonly used for Asthma control are really small and the inhaler devices, deliver the drug directly into lungs, where they ACT DIRECTLY. A very very small amount is absorbed into the bloodstream which is quickly dealt with by body’s ‘first pass’ metabolism. Therefore, it does not have any significant effect on the body, EVEN when used ‘long term’.

On the other hand, if they are not used, and the child gets recurrent asthma attacks, they have a serious effect on child’s health, including ‘Growth’. Many studies have been done, which have proved that use of steroid is much better than not using them in the long term health and growth of a child. We do advice to rinse your mouth properly after taking your steroid inhaler to prevent oral thrush etc.