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Asthma: Corticosteroids and Side Effects in Children

Asthma is one of the most widespread chronic diseases. Moreover, children are prone to it. Despite various medicines, corticosteroids, which are hormones in its essence, appear to be an effective way of treatment. However, many specialists are inclined to think that this type of medicine might harm the child’s health.

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Corticosteroids are applied in severe bronchial asthma, which is unlikely to be treatable by other drugs. Asthma is supposed to be cured by a short-term corticosteroid medicine which has the maximum anti-inflammatory effect and minimum mineralocorticoid activity. It is recommended to take prednisolone, which exists only in pills, and Solu-Medrol (methylprednisolone – natrium succinate). The initial dose of prednisolone during acute bronchospasm is 2 mg per kilo of the child’s weight. The minimum dose is 10 mg, whereas the maximum one is 40 mg. In two or three days, when the acute stage is over, it is necessary to go on to take medicine once in the morning for two days. If the clinical improvement continues, the dose is expected to be reduced to 5 mg. However, if the child experiences another bronchospasm, it is necessary to return to the previous dose, which is supposed to be taken every twelve hours for two days, after that once for two days, and then once every 48 hours. Normally, prednisolone is taken between 7, and 8 am. Solu-Medrol is prescribed intravenously. Its dose is 1 mg per one kilo of the child’s weight. It is taken only during the acute stage. Both medicines are quickly absorbed in the bowels within an hour. Its metabolism takes 4-6 hours. However, the condition’s improvement during bronchospasm is observable only in 6-12 hours and lasts 48 hours after a single dose of prednisolone (Castro-Rodrigez, Custovic, & Ducharme, 2016). The article has provided an overview of how to cope with bronchospasm. It has given detailed information on the doses of the medicine. However, in the case of asthma, it might be reasonable to address the nearest hospital rather than resort to self-treatment.

If taken every day for a long period, corticosteroids entrain a range of side effects. They have been studied for many years. Several experiments have been carried out. According to the research (Aljebab, Choonara, & Conroy 2016), the most common side effects are retaining fluid, increasing appetite, gaining weight, developing a cataract, and developing an emotional instability, and retaining growth. Besides, corticosteroids might result in diabetes and dysfunction of atrabiliary capsules. What is more, corticosteroids tend to affect the immune system? The researches state:

The most serious side effect of short courses of oral corticosteroids was infection due to their immunosuppressant action. Five RCTs reported that 20 children experienced infection during treatment periods (incidence 0.9%). Three cases were reported of children infected with varicella-zoster, one of whom died, and the other two were admitted to the intensive care unit with severe complications. (Aljebab et al., p. 4)

This research is helpful. It reveals the side-effects of corticosteroids. However, it does not provide any insight into how the problem might be solved.

To sum up, it is necessary to point out that corticosteroids are effective in the treatment of asthma. However, they might have serious side effects. Therefore, specialists have not concluded whether corticosteroids have a positive or negative impact on a child’s health.


Aljebab, F., Choonara, I., & Conroy S. (2016). Systematic review of the toxicity of short-term oral corticosteroids in children. Diseases in Childhood, 2016(1), 1-6.

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Castro-Rodrigez, J. A., Custovic, A., & Ducharme F. M. (2016). Treatment of asthma in young children: Evidence-based recommendations. Asthma Research and Practice, 2(5), 1-11.

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