Medication may make it difficult to breathe

Asthma - treatment with cortisone spray

What is cortisone?

Cortisone is a substance that the body makes by itself. For example, it influences the body's own immune system and can inhibit inflammation. Cortisone as a medicine is manufactured artificially. The correct name is "glucocorticoid". Experts also often use the word "corticosteroid". For the sake of simplicity, you will always find the term "cortisone" here.

Why is Cortisone Spray Important?

In asthma, the airways are inflamed. If the symptoms persist, experts recommend a cortisone spray as the first permanent medication. It works against the inflammation and thus against the cause of the discomfort. It can prevent a dangerous asthma attack from occurring. Those who take cortisone spray have such an attack less often and are less likely to come to the hospital for it. Cortisone spray can also prevent deaths from asthma.

Are there other asthma medications?

In some people, the symptoms are so severe that cortisone is not enough as the sole permanent medication. Then other active ingredients are added. They ensure that the airways widen. The breathing difficulties quickly subside.

Some people then think they no longer need the cortisone spray and leave it off.

But that's dangerous: the inflammation persists. Because on the other hand, these drugs are not strong enough, only the cortisone spray.

Why can't I leave out the cortisone spray?

Good studies show: Those who omit the cortisone spray in asthma and only take a drug that dilates the airways are more likely to suffer a severe asthma attack. It can be life threatening.

Therefore, you or your child should never take airway-widening medication permanently without cortisone spray. There are devices that already contain both drugs. Then there is no danger of forgetting the cortisone.

What are the side effects of inhaled cortisone?

Cortisone spray has far fewer side effects than tablet form. Because that's not how it works in the whole body, but mainly in the lungs. The dose and the correct inhalation technique are important. Otherwise it can lead to hoarseness, for example. More rarely, a fungus can form in the mouth. You can prevent this by rinsing your mouth, brushing your teeth or having a drink after inhaling.

September 2020, published by the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians