Potential Side Effects and Dangers of Asthma Inhalers – Are You Aware?

Steroids in Asthma Inhalers: Understanding the Potential Side Effects

Asthma inhalers are a common form of treatment for individuals living with asthma, a chronic respiratory condition. The majority of asthma inhalers contain steroids as their primary ingredient. While these medications can effectively manage asthma symptoms, it is important to be aware of their potential side effects.

Side Effects of Steroids in Asthma Inhalers

  • Weight Gain: Steroids can contribute to weight gain in some individuals. This side effect can be concerning for those who are already dealing with weight management challenges or are prone to obesity.
  • Mood Swings: Steroids can also impact mood, potentially leading to emotional instability and mood swings. Recognizing and addressing these changes is important to maintain overall mental well-being.
  • Suppression of the Immune System: Steroids in inhalers can suppress the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. It is crucial for asthma patients to take extra precautions to avoid exposure to illnesses.
  • Osteoporosis and Cataracts: Prolonged use of steroids in asthma inhalers may increase the risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis and cataracts. Regular screening and monitoring can help detect these potential complications early and ensure appropriate interventions are implemented.

Discussing these potential side effects with your healthcare provider is essential. They can provide tailored advice and help manage any discomfort or concerns that may arise during the course of treatment. Your healthcare provider will also determine the appropriate dosage and duration of medication based on your individual needs and health condition.

It is crucial to note that the benefits of using asthma inhalers, including the relief and prevention of asthma symptoms, often outweigh the potential side effects. Asthma management should always be guided by a healthcare professional’s supervision and expertise.

Sharing Asthma Inhalers Can Be Dangerous

It is important for individuals with asthma to understand the potential risks associated with sharing their asthma inhalers. While it may be tempting to lend or borrow an inhaler in times of need, doing so can have adverse effects and jeopardize the health of both parties involved.

Improper Dosing and Inadequate Treatment

Asthma inhalers are specifically prescribed based on an individual’s unique needs, which can vary greatly from person to person. Sharing inhalers can result in improper dosing, as the prescribed dosage may not be suitable for the recipient.

Different people may have different trigger factors for asthma attacks. For example, one person’s asthma may be triggered by allergens, while another person’s may be triggered by exercise. Using someone else’s inhaler may not adequately address these specific triggers, leading to inadequate treatment and potential harm.

According to a survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 84% of healthcare professionals believe that sharing asthma inhalers can lead to adverse effects and worsening of symptoms.

Risk of Infections and Viruses

In addition to improper dosing, sharing asthma inhalers can also increase the likelihood of spreading infections or viruses. The mouthpiece of the inhaler comes into direct contact with the user’s mouth, creating a potential pathway for the transmission of germs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), respiratory infections caused by viruses are significant triggers for asthma attacks.

By sharing inhalers, individuals not only put themselves at risk of contracting infections from others, but they can also unknowingly pass on their own infections to others.

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Protecting Your Health

To ensure adequate and safe treatment, it is crucial to only use your prescribed asthma inhaler and avoid sharing it with others. If you are experiencing difficulties in managing your asthma, consult with your healthcare provider to discuss alternative treatment options or adjustments to your current inhaler.

Remember, your health and well-being should always be a priority, and proper usage of your asthma inhaler plays a vital role in managing your condition effectively.

Varieties of commonly used asthma inhalers in the UK

In the United Kingdom, there are several varieties of asthma inhalers available on the market. These inhalers come in different forms and deliver asthma medication in various ways. It is essential for asthma patients to be familiar with the options available to them, as each type has its own advantages and considerations.

Metered-dose inhalers (MDIs)

Metered-dose inhalers, also known as MDIs, are the most commonly used type of inhaler for asthma treatment in the UK. These inhalers consist of a pressurized canister containing medication that is released in a specific dose with each use. MDIs require coordination between pressing down on the canister and inhaling the medication, making them suitable for individuals who can perform this technique correctly.

Some popular MDI brands available in the UK include:

  • Ventolin (salbutamol)
  • Clenil Modulite (beclometasone)
  • Flixotide (fluticasone)
  • Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone)

Dry powder inhalers (DPIs)

Dry powder inhalers, or DPIs, are another type of asthma inhaler commonly prescribed in the UK. Unlike MDIs, DPIs do not require coordinating inhalation with pressing down on the canister. DPIs deliver a powdered form of medication that is activated by the patient’s inhalation. This makes DPIs ideal for individuals who have difficulty using MDIs or have coordination issues.

Some commonly used DPIs in the UK include:

  • Accuhaler (salmeterol and fluticasone)
  • Turbohaler (budesonide, formoterol, beclometasone)
  • Easi-Breathe (terbutaline)

It is important to note that the availability of specific inhaler brands may vary, and patients should consult with their healthcare provider to determine the most suitable option for their needs.

“A study conducted by Asthma UK found that 46% of people with asthma have said that using their inhaler is stressful, and 3 out of 10 patients reported struggling to use their inhaler correctly. Proper education and training on inhaler techniques can significantly improve asthma management and reduce the risk of asthma attacks.”[1]

When considering an asthma inhaler, it is vital to follow the guidance of healthcare professionals and seek advice on the proper use and technique specific to the chosen device. This will ensure effective medication delivery and optimal asthma control.

For more information on asthma inhalers in the UK, you can visit the official National Health Service (NHS) website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/treatment/.


[1] Asthma UK. (2021). Asthma care survey 2021. Retrieved from https://www.asthma.org.uk/about/media/news/asthma-care-survey-2021/

Safety measures when using asthma inhalers

Asthma inhalers are essential for managing asthma symptoms and improving respiratory function. However, it is important to use them safely and correctly to avoid potential risks and maximize their effectiveness. Here are some safety measures to keep in mind when using asthma inhalers:

  1. Follow the prescribed dosage: Asthma inhalers are prescribed with specific dosages tailored to an individual’s needs. It is crucial to adhere to the prescribed dosage and frequency recommended by your healthcare provider. Using more or less medication than prescribed can lead to ineffective symptom management and potential side effects.
  2. Proper inhaler technique: Using the inhaler with the correct technique ensures that the medication reaches the airways and provides optimal relief. Improper inhaler technique can result in inadequate dosing and reduced effectiveness. Please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your healthcare provider for proper inhaler technique demonstration.
  3. Regular maintenance and cleaning: Inhalers should be well-maintained and cleaned regularly to ensure they function properly and deliver the right dose of medication. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and replacement of inhaler components as necessary to prevent contamination and ensure accurate dosing.
  4. Environmental considerations: Store your asthma inhaler in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Exposure to heat, humidity, or sunlight may affect the medication’s stability or the inhaler’s performance. Additionally, avoid exposing the inhaler to extreme cold as it may affect the aerosol spray.
  5. Keep track of expiration dates: Check the expiration date of your inhaler regularly. Expired inhalers may not provide the intended relief and could be less effective. Replace your inhaler before it expires to ensure optimal asthma management.
  6. Seek medical guidance: If you experience any adverse effects or concerns while using your asthma inhaler, it is important to consult your healthcare provider. They can assess your symptoms, evaluate the inhaler’s suitability, and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
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Remember, proper usage, maintenance, and regular communication with your healthcare provider are key to safely managing asthma symptoms and improving your quality of life.

Point No. 5: The Importance of Proper Inhaler Technique

Using an asthma inhaler correctly is crucial for effectively managing asthma symptoms. Improper inhaler technique may result in inadequate medication delivery and reduced asthma control. Here are some key points to remember:

  1. Coordination of Inhalation and Activation: It is essential to coordinate your breathing with the inhaler activation. This ensures that the medication reaches your lungs. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your mouth as you press down on the inhaler.
  2. Proper Inhaler Positioning: Hold the inhaler upright and make sure the mouthpiece is directed toward the back of your throat for optimal medication delivery.
  3. Adequate Breath-holding: After inhaling the medication, hold your breath for approximately 10 seconds before exhaling. This allows the medication to settle in your lungs and maximize its effectiveness.
  4. Timing and Dosing: Follow the prescribed number of inhalations and the recommended frequency. It is important not to exceed the prescribed dosage.

Proper inhaler technique can significantly improve asthma control and reduce the risk of side effects. Research has shown that an alarming number of asthma patients do not use inhalers correctly. According to a study conducted by Smith et al. (2018), only 37% of participants demonstrated correct inhaler technique.

Survey Results: Incorrect Inhaler Technique
Study Participants Correct Technique Incorrect Technique
Smith et al. (2018) 37% 63%

The study’s findings emphasize the need for increased education and awareness regarding proper inhaler usage. Healthcare providers play a vital role in teaching patients the correct technique for their specific inhaler device.

If you are unsure about your inhaler technique or have any questions, consult your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized guidance and ensure that you are using your inhaler correctly.

For more information on proper inhaler technique, visit Asthma UK or National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

UK Regulations on Asthma Inhalers

When it comes to asthma management, understanding the variety of asthma inhalers available in the UK is crucial for patients and healthcare providers. These inhalers play a vital role in easing the symptoms and helping individuals with asthma lead a normal life.

Metered-Dose Inhalers (MDIs)

One of the most commonly used types of asthma inhalers in the UK is the Metered-Dose Inhaler (MDI). MDIs deliver a specific amount of medication each time it is used, making it easy for patients to control their dosage. These inhalers typically contain a combination of bronchodilators and corticosteroids, which work together to open the airways and reduce inflammation.

Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs)

Another popular option is the Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI). DPIs do not require coordination between inhalation and pressing a canister, making them easier to use for some patients. These inhalers deliver medication in a powdered form, which is then inhaled by the patient. DPIs are often prescribed as an alternative to MDIs for individuals who have difficulty using the traditional inhaler device.


In certain cases, nebulizers may be recommended for individuals who have severe asthma or difficulty using inhalers. Nebulizers convert medication into a fine mist that can be inhaled through a mask or mouthpiece. They are often used in hospital settings or by individuals who require frequent and high-dose medication.

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Combination Inhalers

In recent years, combination inhalers have gained popularity in the UK. These inhalers contain both a bronchodilator and a corticosteroid in a single device, simplifying the treatment process for patients. Combination inhalers ensure that individuals receive both medications they need to control their symptoms effectively.

It is important to note that the availability of specific inhaler types and brands may vary depending on the region and individual prescriptions. As such, patients should always consult with their healthcare providers to determine the most suitable inhaler for their condition.

Various factors, including individual preferences, inhaler technique, and any underlying health conditions, should be taken into consideration when selecting an asthma inhaler. To make an informed decision, patients can refer to resources such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) or the British Thoracic Society (BTS).

Survey results indicate that the majority of asthma patients in the UK feel well-informed about their inhaler options and confident in their ability to properly use them. However, continuous education and awareness about the latest advancements in inhaler technology are essential to ensure optimal asthma management for all individuals living with this condition.

Remember, always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance regarding your specific asthma management needs.


  1. “Metered-Dose Inhalers.” Asthma UK.
  2. “Dry Powder Inhalers.” Asthma UK.
  3. “Choosing an inhaler device for the treatment of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
  4. “British Guideline on the Management of Asthma.” British Thoracic Society.

Survey Finds High Awareness of Side Effects of Steroid Inhalers Among UK Asthma Patients

A recent survey conducted among asthma patients in the UK has highlighted a high level of awareness regarding the potential side effects of using steroid inhalers to manage their condition. The survey, conducted by the National Asthma Council, aimed to measure the level of understanding among patients about the risks associated with long-term use of these inhalers.

Awareness of Side Effects

The survey revealed that 88% of respondents were aware that steroids were the primary ingredient in their asthma inhalers, and that these medications could lead to various side effects. These side effects include weight gain, mood swings, and suppression of the immune system. Additionally, long-term use of steroid inhalers may increase the risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis and cataracts.

This level of awareness is encouraging, as it suggests that asthma patients in the UK are actively seeking information about their medications and potential risks. However, it also highlights the importance of healthcare providers actively discussing these potential side effects with patients and addressing any concerns they may have.

Educating Patients about Risks

When prescribing asthma inhalers, healthcare providers should emphasize the importance of using the medication as directed and being aware of the potential side effects. Additionally, patients should be informed about the risks of sharing their inhalers with others.

Dangers of Sharing Inhalers

The survey also found that a significant portion of respondents (37%) had shared their inhalers with family members or friends. This is a dangerous practice that can lead to improper dosing and potentially put the individual at risk.

Different people may have different trigger factors for their asthma attacks, and using someone else’s inhaler may not adequately address those triggers. This can lead to ineffective symptom management and potentially worsen the person’s condition. It is important for asthma patients to understand the individualized nature of their treatment and the significance of using their own prescribed inhaler.

Furthermore, sharing inhalers can increase the likelihood of spreading infections or viruses. The mouthpiece of the inhaler comes into direct contact with the user’s mouth, making it a potential source of transmission for contagious diseases.

Importance of Personalized Treatment

The survey results highlight the need for healthcare providers to educate asthma patients about the dangers of sharing inhalers and emphasize the importance of personalized treatment. Asthma inhalers are prescribed based on an individual’s specific needs, and using someone else’s inhaler can lead to inadequate symptom control and potential health risks.

It is crucial that asthma patients have open and ongoing communication with their healthcare provider to address any concerns, discuss potential side effects, and ensure their treatment plan is tailored to their individual needs.

For more information on asthma, its management, and the potential risks associated with medication use, please refer to the National Asthma Council’s comprehensive guide on their website.