For treatment of asthma, there is often debate around which form of treatment is more beneficial - oral or inhaled corticosteroids. Both have certain side-affects that patients must be aware of. Read on to know how different oral medications may affect users.


Corticosteroids comprise a significant class of naturally occurring and synthetic steroid hormones. A common part of prescriptions, their therapeutic effect involves affecting the production of corticosteroids in the human body. It forms the mainstay treatment for both Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma.


Corticosteroids act upon the common symptom of inflammation, in COPD and asthma. This therapeutic intervention tends to prevent disease progression, diminish bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and enhance airway function. The systemic oral corticosteroids help control moderate and severe exacerbations to speed up recovery. These also help in preventing the recurrence of exacerbations. The oral medications common to both COPD and asthma include Prednisone and Methylprednisolone. These are available under the brand names Medrol and Prelone respectively. Additionally, some of the side effects include:

 •    Weight gain
 •    Fluid retention
 •    Loss of muscle mass
 •    Mood change, and
 •    High blood pressure


The inhaled corticosteroids on the other hand form the first line of treatment for asthma. Correspondingly, COPD patients presenting acute worsening of symptoms should take low dosages of inhaled corticosteroids. Systemic exposure could predispose them to adverse effects. Also, in comparison to oral corticosteroids, inhaled corticosteroids have higher anti-inflammatory activity. These have been referred to as alternatives to oral corticosteroids for treating worsening symptoms. The inhaled corticosteroids common to both asthma and COPD include:

 •    Beclomethasone
 •    Budesonide
 •    Ciclesonide
 •    Fluticasone propionate and
 •    Mometasone furoate.


Some of the brand names are Qvar, Pulmicort Flexhaler, Alvesco, Flovent, and Asmanex. However, some of the side effects include osteoporosis, reoccurring infection, cataract, bruising, and stomach ulcers.

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