Health Guide
Drug Guide

Corticosteroid (Inhalation route)

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Uses of This Medicine:

Inhalation corticosteroids are cortisone-like medicines. They are used to help prevent the symptoms of asthma. When used regularly every day, inhalation corticosteroids decrease the number and severity of asthma attacks. However, they will not relieve an asthma attack that has already started.

Inhaled corticosteroids work by preventing certain cells in the lungs and breathing passages from releasing substances that cause asthma symptoms.

This medicine may be used with other asthma medicines, such as bronchodilators (medicines that open up narrowed breathing passages) or other corticosteroids taken by mouth.

Inhalation corticosteroids are available only with your doctor's prescription.

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although this use is not included in product labeling, some of the inhaled corticosteroids are used in certain patients with the following medical condition:

Before Using This Medicine:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Inhalation corticosteroids have been tested in children and, except for the possibility of slowed growth, in low effective doses, have not been shown to cause different side effects or problems than they do in adults.

Studies have shown that slowed growth or reduced adrenal gland function may occur in some children using inhaled corticosteroids in recommended doses. However, poorly controlled asthma may cause slowed growth, especially when corticosteroids taken by mouth are needed. Your doctor will want you to use the lowest possible dose of an inhaled corticosteroid that will control the asthma. This will lessen the chance of an effect on growth or adrenal gland function. It is also important that children taking inhaled corticosteroids visit their doctors regularly so that their growth rates may be monitored.

Regular use of inhaled corticosteroids may allow some children to stop using or decrease the amount of corticosteroids taken by mouth. This also will reduce the risk of slowed growth or reduced adrenal function.

Children who are using inhaled corticosteroids in large doses should avoid exposure to chickenpox or measles. When a child is exposed or the disease develops, the doctor should be contacted and his or her directions should be followed carefully.

Before this medicine is given to a child, you and your child's doctor should talk about the good this medicine will do as well as the risks of using it. Follow the doctor's directions very carefully to lessen the chance that unwanted effects will occur.

Older adults

Appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of inhaled corticosteroids have not been performed in the geriatric population. However, no geriatric-specific problems have been documented to date.


Although studies in animals have shown that inhaled corticosteroids cause birth defects and other problems, in humans these medicines, when used in regular daily doses during pregnancy to keep the mother's asthma under control, have not been reported to cause breathing problems or birth defects in the newborn. Also, corticosteroids may prevent the effects of poorly controlled asthma, which are known to be harmful to the baby. Before taking an inhaled corticosteroid, make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant.


It is not known whether inhaled corticosteroids pass into breast milk. Although most medicines pass into breast milk in small amounts, many of them may be used safely while breast-feeding. Mothers who are using this medicine and who wish to breast-feed should discuss this with their doctor.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of medicines in this class. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Inhaled corticosteroids will not relieve an asthma attack that has already started. However, your doctor may want you to continue taking this medicine at the usual time, even if you use another medicine to relieve the asthma attack.

Use this medicine only as directed. Do not use more of it and do not use it more often than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects. Do not stop taking this medicine abruptly. This medicine should be discontinued only under the supervision of your doctor.

In order for this medicine to help prevent asthma attacks, it must be used every day in regularly spaced doses, as ordered by your doctor. Up to 4 to 6 weeks may pass before you begin to notice improvement in your condition. It may take several months before you feel the full effects of this medicine. This may not take as long if you have already been taking certain other medicines for your asthma.

Gargling and rinsing your mouth with water after each dose may help prevent hoarseness, throat irritation, and infection in the mouth. However, do not swallow the water after rinsing. Your doctor may also want you to use a spacer device to lessen these problems.

Inhaled corticosteroids are used with a special inhaler and usually come with patient directions. Read the directions carefully before using this medicine. If you do not understand the directions or you are not sure how to use the inhaler, ask your health care professional to show you what to do. Also, ask your health care professional to watch how you use the inhaler to make sure you are using it properly.

For patients using beclomethasone, flunisolide, or triamcinolone inhalation aerosol:

For patients using beclomethasone capsules for inhalation:

For patients using beclomethasone powder for inhalation:

For patients using budesonide powder for inhalation

For patients using budesonide suspension for inhalation:


The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

If you miss a dose of this medicine, use it as soon as possible. Then use any remaining doses for that day at regularly spaced times.


Keep out of the reach of children.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

The 84-mcg-per-metered-spray product of beclomethasone should not be stored for longer than 6 months after it has been removed from its moisture-protective pouch. After 6 months, any remaining medicine should be discarded.

Do not puncture, break, or burn the aerosol container, even after it is empty.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.

Check with your doctor if:

Your doctor may want you to carry a medical identification card stating that you are using this medicine and that you may need additional medicine during times of emergency, a severe asthma attack or other illness, or unusual stress.

Before you have any kind of surgery (including dental surgery) or emergency treatment, tell the medical doctor or dentist in charge that you are using this medicine.

For patients who are also regularly taking a corticosteroid by mouth in tablet or liquid form:

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Shortness of breath, troubled breathing, tightness in chest, or wheezing
signs of hypersensitivity reactions, such as swelling of face, lips, or eyelids

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Less common
burning or pain while urinating, blood in urine, or frequent urge to urinate
chest pain
creamy white, curd-like patches in the mouth or throat and/or pain when eating or swallowing
dizziness or sense of constant movement or surroundings
general feeling of discomfort or illness
irregular or fast heartbeat
itching, rash, or hives
sinus problems
stomach or abdominal pain
swelling of fingers, ankles, feet, or lower legs
unusual tiredness or weakness
weight gain
Bleeding from rectum or bloody stools
blurred vision or other changes in vision
diarrhea or nausea
fainting or feeling faint
frequent urination or unusual thirst
growth inhibition in children
high blood pressure
increased fat deposits in face, neck, and trunk
increased skin pigmentation
loss of appetite
menstrual changes
mood or mental changes
pain or burning in chest

Additional side effects may occur if you take this medicine for a long time. Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects occur:

Pain in the back, ribs, arms, or legs (osteoporosis)

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Cold-like symptoms
dry mouth or throat
sore throat, hoarseness or voice change
Less common or rare
trouble in sleeping

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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