Counting Down a Decade of Asthma – No. 5, Steroid Rules

Part of the series A Decade of Asthma.

Right after learning to love steroids, parents of moderate persistents like me have to get acquainted with all the little rules and tips that prevent some of their side effects. Because asthma’s just a laugh a minute sometimes, it really is.

These are my four highest priorities when it comes to steroids – inhaled and oral – for my kid:

Regarding Inhaled Steroids

1. Always, always, always get kids to rinse or brush their teeth after using a corticosteroid inhaler like Flovent or doing a Pulmicort treatment in the nebulizer. That stuff may combat airway inflammation but it’s murder on tooth enamel. On the asthma message boards I used to frequent seven years ago, I once met a woman who’d never been told this step, and her child ended up with 11 cavities as a result.

2. Using maintenance steroids “as needed” rather than daily does not work for persistent asthma. Believe me, I’m way more versed in this guideline than I’d like to be.

Regarding Oral Steroids

1. Prednisone is notoriously hard on the stomach, among other side effects. Check out Danielle’s excellent prednisone survival post for more on this.

2. Oral steroids in short bursts won’t put your asthmatic child at risk for some of the long-term side effects, but they will turn your kid into a crazy person. Be patient. Be very, very patient with the mood swings, the tantrums, and (in AG’s case) the weepiness. They really can’t help it.