Inhaled Corticosteroids and Osteoporosis

This article has been reviewed by Thanai Pongdee, MD, FAAAAI

There are times when a medication can be very beneficial for one ailment, but has the potential to cause concern for another condition. This can be the case with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), a group of medications commonly used to treat asthma.

Since asthma is a chronic disease, continuous use of anti-inflammatory medications is important for most patients with asthma. And while ICS are effective for asthma treatment, they can contribute to the development of osteoporosis in susceptible individuals when used in high doses. Osteoporosis is a condition leading to brittle bones, especially in older women.

In most instances, physicians believe the benefits of ICS far outweigh the potential downsides. First, uncontrolled asthma puts you at a high risk for complications requiring hospitalization. And if your asthma is uncontrolled, chances are you have unhealthy issues such as trouble sleeping or difficulty exercising.

Your allergist / immunologist can weigh the risks and may prescribe medications to counteract osteoporosis, or order bone density testing.

AAAAI - American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology