Jodhpur, 13 August, 2019. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) are medicines used daily to prevent and control the symptoms of asthma. ICSs are taken using an inhaler, pump, or nebulizer. ICSs have fewer side effects than corticosteroids pills since most of the inhaled medicine goes directly to the lungs instead of traveling throughout the body. They’re medicines that quickly fight inflammation in your body. These lab-made steroids work like the hormone cortisol that is made by your adrenal glands.

However, in India the acceptance of inhalers among women as well as the general masses is very low, primarily because of the prevailing myths such as the fear of addiction, the steroids in inhalers will cause harm while being pregnant or conceiving and that inhalers are ‘strong medicines ‘and should be used as last resort. Expert’s emphasis that patients and their family members must understand the nature of the disease and the way the medicines and the inhalers act. It is only then that treatment will be taken as recommended by the doctor.

“In inhalation therapy, the medication is delivered directly to the lungs and takes effect faster than orally ingested asthma medications,” Dr. C.R. Choudhary, Professor, K.N. Chest Govt. Hospital, Jodhpur explains. “Moreover, oral medications inevitably get absorbed in all organs and not just the lungs, even though other organs do not require the drug.”

The corticosteroids present in inhalers are completely safe and medically approved. They are used in very low doses (micrograms) & researches have proved that they are so safe that they can be taken over several years. Use of inhalers right from the initial stages allows the patient to have better control on asthma and reduce greatly the recurrence of attacks, besides helping prevent complications. This helps the patient to lead a normal life and participate in all activitiessays Dr. Gaurav Gomber, Paediatrician & Neonetologist, Aashirwad Hospital, Bikaner.

Here are few facts about Inhalation Therapy

  • The cost of inhalation therapy is just Rs 4 to 6 per day. The most cost efficient yet effective medication for relieving your asthma agony. It is unfortunate that in India, almost 80 percent of asthmatic patients are on oral medications, due to fear and stigma associated with inhalers. Oral medications lead to more side effects and are required in large dosages.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids are the only drugs that stop the progression of the disease, reduce severity and control it without significant side-effects. Without inhaled corticosteroids, the disease will often progress, and more drugs will be required later.
  • Inhalers supply the drugs directly to the lungs, providing the safest mode of drug administration. Because of this, the dosage is a small fraction of the oral form.
  • Steroids such as cortisone are non-anabolic steroids, and the steroids athletes use to build muscle are anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are artificially produced hormones that are the same as androgens, the male-type sex hormones in the body. The most popular androgen is testosterone. Unlike, anabolic steroids, inhaled corticosteroids are used to treat asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases.
  • According to National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) guidelines, inhaled corticosteroids are the safest, most effective medicine available for management of mild or moderate persistent asthma.
  • If a child can take an asthma inhaler, a pregnant woman can too. In fact, it is important that a pregnant woman continue with regular asthma inhalers as it will give her the best chance of having a healthy baby. Today’s inhalers are so safe, even mothers who breastfeed can take inhalers without any harm to the child. Since the dose in inhaled medicines is up to 40 times less than that of tablets.
  • Complementary/alternative treatments like homoeopathy, ayurveda, herbal therapy, acupuncture and fish therapy, amongst others will not benefit you in controlling asthma. There is no data that proves their efficacy. Research shows that these treatments have not proven to be of any help in controlling asthma. Besides, there is lack of information about their safety as they bear some risks to patients regarding side effects. Please note that in an asthma attack complementary medicines cannot help. They are not meant to replace your inhalation treatment. So, don’t ever abandon your main medication, even if you decide to try out one of these treatments. First discuss the complementary treatment with your doctor and take his advice before going ahead.
  • Corticosteroids are a copy of the steroids that are produced naturally in our bodies. Thus, it is a very safe and effective treatment for asthma. It is important that you understand that these are not the same steroids that are misused by some athletes and body builders. However, not all inhalers contain steroid, some contain a quick relief drug. Depending on your condition, your doctor may occasionally prescribe steroid tablets. If taken for a short period of time, it will not have damaging effects.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids can be prescribed to preschool children experiencing repeated exacerbations and severe or prolonged wheezing. These are also found to be effective for the treatment of school-age children suffering from persistent asthma of all severities. However, it’s important to administer the right dose.  Inhaled corticosteroids have been used as an effective treatment option across the globe to treat inflammation of the airways, block the chemical called histamine and suppress allergic reactions like asthma, helping asthmatic patients to lead normal lives.

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