Most asthma medications are well tolerated by people with asthma. Those with asthma can live long, active and healthy lives under the care of an allergist. Medications are adjusted to the lowest dose possible for your symptoms, and when you and your allergist work as a team, your asthma can be well controlled.
Because asthma is an inflammation of the airways in the lungs, most patients are prescribed anti-inflammatory medications. With all medicines, side effects can occur. Oral corticosteroids such as prednisone are the most potent anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat asthma. One known side effect of these drugs is bone loss that could result in osteoporosis. This type of osteoporosis is known as steroid-induced osteoporosis.
Inhaled corticosteroids are very effective anti-inflammatory agents. They are significantly safer than oral corticosteroids because less of the drug in its active form is absorbed into the body. However, higher doses of inhaled corticosteroid may still cause side effects, including osteoporosis. Therefore, your allergist will always use the lowest effective dose of oral corticosteroid if it is required and will prescribe inhaled medication, whenever possible, at the lowest dose that will control your symptoms.
If you need daily corticosteroids or a similar drug to control your asthma, your allergist may want to determine your bone density. Bone mineral density tests are recommended starting at age 50; if you use corticosteroids to control your asthma, you may need earlier monitoring.
Remember, you have choices in your treatment options, and your allergist can talk with you about any potential side effects of your medications. Your allergist can help you determine which medications are best for you.