Do Asthma Medications Have Side Effects

One of the hotly debated subjects in the field of asthma control is the effect of asthma medication side effects on treatment. For many people, the side effects of their daily medication make life uncomfortable or unpleasant. When that happens, doctors say, they opt to stop using a daily inhaler or oral medication, which increases the risks of an asthma flare-up.

Depending on the specific asthma medication side effects may be as mild as a little bit of jitteriness, or far more severe. Below are some of the most commonly used asthma medications, along with side effects that you may experience while using them.


Most doctors prescribe a bronchodilator as a rescue inhaler. They act to relax the muscles around airways, easing breathing quickly. They do not treat the underlying inflammation. Bronchodilators are the most commonly prescribed class of asthma medication. They include albuterol and pirbuterol. Technically, they are referred to as beta2 agonists.

Side effects of bronchodilators are generally few, if any, but they may cause problems if used more often than theyre prescribed. Especially watch for rapid heart rate or irregularities. If you habitually need to use a bronchodilator more often than your doctor recommends, make an appointment to see him as soon as possible to readjust your asthma treatment plan.

Oral Corticosteroids

Oral steroids are most often used in acute attacks when symptoms are especially severe. They reduce the inflammation along the bronchioles in the lungs.

Because of the potential for a number of side effects, oral steroids like prednisone are usually only prescribed for short-term management of acute flare-ups. However, if symptoms do not respond to other maintenance medication and strategies, a doctor may prescribe a form of prednisone for long term treatment of inflammation.

When taking oral steroid asthma medication side effects to watch for include: mood changes, insomnia, increased hair growth, roundness in the face or thinning skin. You should contact your doctor immediately if you see any of the following side effects of oral steroids: itching, hives, tingling face, trouble breathing; headache, eye pain, vision problems; increased thirst or need to urinate; dizziness; seizures; stomach pain, bloody stools; pain, swelling or loss of movement in lower leg; sudden fluid retention or weight gain.

Inhaled Steroids

Inhaled steroid asthma medication side effects are far less severe than steroids taken orally. Because of their few side effects, and their ability to lessen inflammation, inhaled steroids are the first line defense medication for asthma patients. They are suitable for long-term daily use and are often prescribed in addition to a rescue inhaler with a bronchodilator.

One of the few common side effects of inhaled steroids is oral yeast infections. Regular medical checkups are suggested to help monitor for any adverse side effects.

Inhaled cromolyn and nedocromil

Two anti-inflammatory drugs that are often used to treat asthma, cromolyn and nedocromil offer few side effects, but are less powerful than steroids, and have limited uses.

Leukotrine modifiers

One of the newest types of drugs used to fight asthma, leukotrine modifiers help reduce and prevent inflammation in the airways. They are not effective in acute cases of asthma flare-ups, but can help prevent them by keeping bronchial passages from becoming inflamed.