The Cortisone Shot For Asthma Benefits And Side Effects


When the cortisone treatment for asthma was introduced many patients and even doctors were apprehensive. The word steroid was enough to scare anyone of the cortisone based inhalers. Most have heard of anabolic steroids used by athletes to give them a surge of energy. Anabolic steroids were also used to build muscle mass and boost testosterone, the male sex hormones. Anabolic steroids are fraught with serious side effects like stunted growth, liver damage, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol level surge, coronary heart disease etc. As a result of this steroid phobia, doctors used to prescribe cortisone medicines for asthma only in extreme cases.


Nowadays the trend has completely changed. Doctors and patients have realized that cortisones are different from the anabolic steroids. Asthma specialists now invariably give a short burst of cortisone to most patients with even with mild to moderate. The common drug of choice is prednisone. It is now widely accepted that even oral doses of this medicine used for shorter duration has much lesser side effects. The therapeutic effects of  prednisone can be seen as early as two hours after the initial dose. With the prompt use of prednisone the need for acute emergency visits or hospitalization in both children and adults comes down drastically.

Short-term cortisone therapy is a very safe and effective way to control asthma in patients who are not responding to other asthma medicines. One interesting find about cortisones is that the side effects depend on the duration of the course rather than dosage. So doctors normally give burst of high dosage cortisone treatment for a short duration and a 7 days tapering course.

Prednisone however is not without side effects. When the oral cortisone treatment is tapered or stopped the patients may experience many unpleasant side effects like loss of energy, poor appetite, severe muscle aches, and joint pains. Other problems such as hay fever and eczema that were masked by the oral cortisone may emerge. In many cases the symptoms of cortisone withdrawal are so severe that the drug must be tapered slowly over weeks or months.

Possible side effects from the prednisone usage include weight gain, increased appetite, menstrual irregularities, cramps, acne flare-ups, mood changes, muscle cramps, and heartburn. Prednisone can aggravate tuberculosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma, esophageal reflux, ulcers, or psychosis. Such patients will need close observation when on prednisone. The long-term use of oral prednisone has devastating side effects. Some of the more serious complications are osteoporosis, adrenal gland failure, cataracts, stunted growth, high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar.


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