Has your child been diagnosed with asthma? Of course, you want the very best treatment for your child so he can engage in all of his favorite activities without fear of developing serious asthma symptoms. What type of asthma treatment is best? When treating children with asthma, many physicians believe the use of inhaled steroids are the most effective since studies have shown they reduce the risk of asthma-related deaths in children. Despite this reduced risk, parents are sometimes understandably anxious about giving their child steroid based medications. Are inhaled steroids for children with asthma a safe treatment option?
Why are inhaled steroids for children with asthma such an effective form of treatment?
Inhaled steroids reduce the inflammation in the lungs and airways which are responsible for the symptoms of asthma. When inflammation is reduced, air flows with less resistance which causes the characteristic wheezing and shortness of breath associated with asthma to improve. Inhaled corticosteroids in children are particularly important because studies show they can reduce mortality associated with childhood asthma, a disease that causes around five thousand deaths per year.
What are the side effects of inhaled corticosteroids in children?
One issue that concerns many parents is whether using inhaled steroids for children with asthma can stunt growth. This doesn’t appear to be the case. Although there could be some short-term slow down in growth rate, according to studies, children catch up and reach their genetically determined height and weight. Sometimes use of inhaled corticosteroids in children can cause mild throat irritation including hoarseness and mild pain, although this isn’t frequent. Rarely, a child will develop a yeast infection in the throat or mouth from using a steroid inhaler. This can be prevented in most cases by thoroughly rinsing the mouth after every use. Keep in mind that use of inhaled corticosteroids in children with asthma is quite different from the anabolic steroids sometimes used by athletes and don’t cause the same effects.
What if inhaled corticosteroids aren’t used to treat a child with asthma?
If a child has a moderate to severe case of asthma with pronounced airway inflammation, it could be risky not to use a steroid inhaler. Even though standard inhalers and nebulizer treatments can reduce symptoms, they don’t relieve the inflammation which is the underlying reason for the symptoms. If a steroid inhaler isn’t used, symptoms could become so severe that oral steroids are required which do have significant side effects and can stunt growth in some children, particularly at high doses. The greatest benefit of inhaled steroids for children with asthma is the medication is directed straight to the lungs with less getting into the bloodstream to cause potential side effects.
The bottom line?
The use of inhaled corticosteroids in children appears to be safe and, best of all; they reduce the incidence of asthma related deaths. If your doctor prescribes them, keep in mind that they may prevent the need for oral steroid medications which can have significant side effects in children.