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Ask the Allergist

What are the Side Effects of Using Budesonide?

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Question
My toddler was recently diagnosed with asthma and we began treatment with inhalers. His doctor just prescribed budesonide to be used with a nebulizer. I know the treatments are necessary, but I'm concerned about the long-term effects of using corticosteroids. Can you share some information on the long-term side effects?
Answer

When budesonide is used as directed, it is a safe, long-term controller medicine for toddlers with asthma. Budesonide is an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS). ICS act on the surface lining of the lungs. The dose of ICS is usually low, and very little of these medicines are absorbed into the bloodstream. This lowers the risk of long-term side effects in the body.

In contrast, oral corticosteroids have an increased risk of long-term side effects. This is because the dose of oral corticosteroids tends to be higher than ICS. They can also be absorbed into the bloodstream. Side effects can include:

  • Increased risk for infection
  • Poor growth
  • Osteoporosis
  • Eye changes (such as cataracts and glaucoma)

Again, these side effects are more likely for oral corticosteroids and are minimal to rare for inhaled corticosteroids that are used as directed.

Discuss appropriate monitoring and side effects with your health care provider. You can also, consult with an allergy and asthma specialist for a more in-depth discussion.

Categories
Asthma, Medicines
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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