Inhaled corticosteroids, while much better tolerated by patients compared to pills or injections, may also cause side effects when taken for several months at high doses. These effects can include cataracts, osteoporosis and adrenal insufficiency. However, these side effects are very rare.
Moreover, when taken orally in the airways, corticosteroids can cause a number of local infections (e.g. oral fungal infections, changes in nasal passages).
Good to know
- Always rinse your mouth after inhaling corticosteroids
- Dam TT et al. Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) Research Group. Bone mineral density and fractures in older men with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma. Osteoporos Int. 2010
- Gonnelli S et al. Effect of inhaled glucocorticoids and beta(2) agonists on vertebral fracture risk in COPD patients: the EOLO study. Calcif Tissue Int. 2010
- Todd GR et al. Survey of adrenal crisis associated with inhaled corticosteroids in the United Kingdom. Arch Dis Child. 2002
- Todd G et al. Growth and adrenal suppression in asthmatic children treated with high-dose fluticasone propionate. Lancet. 1996