First of all, remember that the oral steroids served a critical purpose. They helped you recover from a severe asthma flare-up. Or they are helping you avoid having a severe asthma flare-up. The dangers of not taking them in such cases are much higher than the dangers of side effects. 

Of course, if you can prevent or minimise the need for oral steroids by keeping your asthma under control, that is the best option. Make sure you are working with your doctor to manage your asthma well, so you can breathe freely. 

If you are taking continuous or very frequent oral steroids and you feel like your doctor isn’t exploring other options, even when you have asked them to, it might be time for a second opinion. Another doctor or specialist who knows more about asthma might be able to find a way to get you off oral steroids all together. Find out how to find a second opinion here.

What checks should I have?

If you have reached or surpassed 1000mg (1 gram) of oral steroids in your life, there is a higher risk of certain long-term side effects. This risk is dose-dependent. That means, the more oral steroids you’ve had, the higher your risk. That’s why we want to help you do everything you can to reduce your risks. To talk to us directly, call 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462). 

For most tests, you will need a doctor’s referral or request form. Talk to your doctor about which ones they suggest for you. Depending on your history of oral steroid use, they might suggest all of these, some, or none at this time.  

Checks you might have  What does it check for?  Where can I get it? 
Blood pressure checks Risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease  Doctor or local pharmacy 
Blood sugar test or oral glucose tolerance test  Diabetes risk  Doctor or local pharmacy 
Cholesterol blood test Risk of heart disease and stroke  Doctor referral 
Blood test for vitamin D & calcium  To see if you need supplements  Doctor referral 
DEXA scan  Bone density  Doctor referral 
Eye exam  Cataracts  



These checks are included in a standard eye test for glasses, which is bulk-billed in most places 

Mental health screening (K10)  To see if you need support for depression or anxiety  Doctor or Beyond Blue if you would prefer to do it online  
Home Medicines Review  Interactions with other medicines. Useful if you take medicines for a few different conditions  Doctor can refer you to a community pharmacist or geriatrician 
In rare cases: 

Screening for adrenal suppression 

Adrenal insufficiency    Doctor may arrange tests of your blood, urine and saliva 

What can I do to lower my risk of side effects?


What should I do if I am on maintenance oral steroids for severe asthma?


The Oral Corticosteroid Stewardship Project is a leading partnership between Asthma Australia and the Centre of Excellence in Treatable Traits together with the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand to improve care and outcomes for people with asthma. 

Materials for the Oral Corticosteroid Stewardship Project are developed independently, made possible by grant funding from Chiesi Australia, Sanofi, and GSK, who are not involved in their development.