Steroid pills and syrups are very effective at reducing swelling and mucus production in the airways. They also help other quick-relief medication work better. They are often necessary for treating more severe episodes of lung disease.
Common steroid pills and liquids include:
How the medicine works
How the medicine is used
Many people with chronic lung disease periodically require a short-term burst of steroid pills or syrups to decrease the severity of acute attacks and prevent an emergency room visit or hospitalization. A burst may last two to seven days and may not require a gradually decreasing dosage. For others, a burst may need to continue for several weeks with a gradually decreasing dosage. You may experience a few mild side effects such as increased appetite, fluid retention, moodiness and stomach upset. These side effects are temporary and typically disappear after the medicine is stopped.
Some people with a chronic lung disease require the use of steroid pills or syrups as part of their routine treatment for weeks, months or longer. In several lung diseases, the main treatment is high-dose steroid pills for several months or longer. If you have asthma, it is important that your treatment include an adequate dosage of an inhaled steroid before beginning routine steroid pills. We recommend that anyone requiring routine steroid pills be under the care of a specialist (pulmonologist or allergist).
The use of routine steroid pills or frequent steroid bursts can cause a number of side effects. Steroid side effects usually occur after long-term use with high doses of steroid pills. Side effects, which may occur in some people taking high-dose steroid pills, include:
Prevention &/or Treatment of Side Effects
Fluid and Electrolytes
Fluid and Electrolytes
Learn the basics about steroids including what corticosteroids are; what steroids are produced in the body; some more steroid medicines; important dosing considerations; and our research on steroids.
Learn more about some common inhaled steroids including how inhaled steroids are typically prescribed; how the dosage of steroids is determined; side effects of inhaled steroids, and some recommendations to decrease or prevent side effects.
This information has been approved by David Tinkelman, MD (August 2012).