Commonly called rescue medicine, steroid tablets, pred, prednisolone, oral or systemic corticosteroids.
Includes medicines such as Panafcortelone, Predmix, Predsolone, Redipred, Solone, Panafcort or Sone. The active ingredient is prednisolone or prednisone.
HOW DO ORAL CORTICOSTEROIDS WORK?
Oral corticosteroids (OCS) are a powerful medicine that act in the body to help reduce inflammation. It quickly reduces the swelling in your lungs, helping you to breathe more easily.
They are much stronger than the inhaled corticosteroid in preventer inhalers. Because it is a much stronger dose, it can also have an effect on other parts of your body, not just your lungs.
OCS usually take up to 1-2 hours to start working.
WHY MIGHT YOU NEED ORAL CORTICOSTEROIDS?
You might be prescribed a short course of oral corticosteroid to help regain asthma control during a flare-up or after an asthma attack.
If you have used oral corticosteroids more than twice in a year or for long periods, it is important to discuss other options with your doctor for improving your asthma control.
This might include:
- checking your inhaler technique to make sure you are getting the most from your preventer
- exploring any issues with taking your preventer consistently
- discussing the possibility of add-on therapies for your asthma
- exploring other health conditions impacting your breathing.
HOW DO YOU USE ORAL CORTICOSTEROIDS?
Oral corticosteroids are usually prescribed as a tablet that you swallow for adults, or a liquid for children. You will usually take this medicine for 5-10 days for adults and 3-5 days for children.
Weaning down doses of oral corticosteroids is usually only needed when taken longer term (more than 14 days).
Your doctor may include oral corticosteroid medicine on your written Asthma Action Plan as a step to take if your asthma worsens.
WHY MIGHT YOU NEED LONG TERM ORAL CORTICOSTEROIDS?
If you have severe asthma, you might be prescribed oral corticosteroids long term. This could be months or even years. Your doctor or specialist will only prescribe this if it is necessary to prevent you from having regular flare-ups.
If you are prescribed long term oral corticosteroids, ask your doctor or specialist if any monoclonal antibodies are suitable for you – they could reduce or eliminate your need for long term oral corticosteroids.
SIDE EFFECTS OF ORAL CORTICOSTEROIDS
Some short term side effects of oral corticosteroids may include:
- Mood changes
- Increased appetite
Some long term side effects of oral corticosteroids may include:
- Changes in behaviour
- Rounding of face
- Changes in the body’s ability to handle glucose (steroid diabetes)
- Changes in bones which can result in an increased chance of fractures due to brittleness or softening of the bone
- Muscle cramps or weakness
- Weight gain
- Water retention
- Redistribution of body fat
- Slowed growth in children
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Changes to the skin
- Changes to the immune system
- Changes in the eyes
- Changes in hormone levels in your body
- Effects on the parathyroid and thyroid glands which control calcium and body metabolism
- Increased amounts of cholesterol in the blood
- Increased blood pressure