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Inhaled Corticosteriods: Keep Airways Open

GIP Priority Message: Use Inhaled Corticosteroids

Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective medications for long-term management of persistent asthma and should be utilized by patients and clinicians as is recommended in the guidelines for treatment of asthma.

Use inhaled corticosteroids for better asthma control and fewer flare-ups

Because asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder, persistent asthma is most effectively controlled with daily long-term control medication directed toward suppressing inflammation. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are the most effective long-term therapy available for mild, moderate, or severe persistent asthma. ICS are anti-inflammatory medications that reduce airway hyperresponsiveness, inhibit inflammatory cell migration and activation, and block late phase reaction to allergen. In general, ICS are well tolerated and safe at the recommended dosages.

Generally, ICS improve asthma control more effectively, in both children and adults, than any other single long-term control medication. However, alternative options for medications are available to tailor treatment to individual patient circumstances, needs, and preferences. The benefits of ICS outweigh the concerns about the potential risk of a small, non-progressive reduction in growth velocity in children, or other possible adverse effects.

Educate patients on the role of ICS in long-term asthma management

Communicating the effectiveness, safety, and importance of ICS for asthma control and addressing concerns about their long-term use should occur at all levels of health care. It is also important for clinicians and educators to tailor their communications based on consideration of the patient’s health literacy level. As well, it is crucial to develop a heightened awareness of health disparities and cultural barriers that facilitate more effective communication with minority (ethnic or racial) or economically disadvantaged patients regarding the use of asthma medications that may improve asthma outcomes.

Last Updated January 2013