Community Pediatric Asthma Service

Oral Steroids

Oral Steroids

Sometimes asthma flare-ups cannot be controlled with your inhaled corticosteroid medicine.  You may be prescribed an add-on corticosteroid therapy in a pill or liquid form, often taken for 3-5 days.

 

Remember to check with your local pharmacy on how to dispose of unwanted/expired medication, including asthma devices.


Oral steroids can...

usually get asthma under control quickly, allowing you to start feeling well sooner. Oral steroids are "add-on" which means these oral medicines are taken in addition to your regular inhaled corticosteroids.  Once the flare-up is controlled, you can return to your regular treatment of inhaled corticosteroid medicine. Oral corticosteroids are not usually taken on a regular basis, but are reserved to treat severe asthma flare-ups. Some common names for oral corticosteroids for asthma are Prednisone, Pediapred, or Decadron/ Dexamethasone.

Safe and Effective

Oral corticosteroid medicines are safe and effective when taken for short periods of time

Side Effects

  • Side effects of oral corticosteroids are not usually seen if you take a typical 3 to 5 day course of the medicine
  • You may notice some mood changes or increased appetite, but these disappear when the medicine is stopped

Prolonged Use

Prolonged use of oral corticosteroids may cause side effects such as weight gain, skin thinning or bruising, osteoporosis, delayed growth and glaucoma

Medicine Review

If you have taken the equivalent of 3 weeks of oral steroids in a year, it is time to discuss the long-term side effects of oral steroids with your doctor.  A review of your regular maintenance medicine for asthma would also be helpful


Medicine Tips

Medicine Tips for Parents

Tablets

  • If children are old enough to swallow them, tablets seem to be preferred. A tablet in a spoonful of jam or chocolate syrup helps the medicine go down :-)
  • While a tablet seems to be the easier medicine to take, it is not always the first to be prescribed in a hospital setting. Ask your doctor if it is available and appropriate

Liquids

  • Liquid corticosteroids have a tendency to cause some children to vomit. Dexamethasone is commonly prescribed in the hospital
  • If your child vomits within 30 minutes of taking liquid corticosteroid medicine, it has not had a chance to be absorbed by the body and the dose must be repeated.
  • If the liquid corticosteroid is repeatedly vomited, talk to your doctor about the alternatives

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Material on this website has been designed for information purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.