Are Inhaled Corticosteroids Safe??>

Are Inhaled Corticosteroids Safe?

by UCB Health & Wellness Publications  

Inhaled corticosteroids are often used to treat asthma and other lung conditions. Inhaling these medications instead of swallowing them in pill form reduces the amount absorbed by the body, which lowers (but doesn’t eliminate) the risk of experiencing adverse effects.

Inhaled corticosteroids can cause hoarseness, throat irritation, and a cough. Thrush (candidiasis), a yeast infection of the mouth and tongue, is another risk, especially in older people. You can minimize the risks by rinsing your mouth after inhalation, keeping the inhaler clean, and using a spacer device to reduce the amount of medicine that settles in your mouth.

Some studies show that inhaled corticosteroids can raise the risk of cataracts, and the larger the dose, the greater the likelihood of needing cataract surgery. However, the benefits of using inhaled corticosteroids for some conditions may outweigh the long-term risk of cataracts, which are treatable.

This article first appeared in the 2019 UC Berkeley Arthritis White Paper, medically reviewed by John A. Flynn, MD.