Side Effects and Necessity of Drugs Prescribed

My 4 1/2 yrs son has suffered from asthma occasionaly since 2 yrs, yet was only officially diagnosed about 6 months ago. He has been particularly unwell with a chesty cough and cold and this has led to a much higher use of his reliever inhaler, and as a result he has been prescribed a 3 day dose of soluble steroid tablets as well as a preventer inhalor. His symptoms have improved dramatically and he hasn't had an asthma attack since (about a week ago now, have been giving the preventor once morning and night).

He's been off school but going back tomorrow, have found it all quite stressful!

Just reading up on things really and wondered if anybody knew more about long term side effects of all medication associated with asthma (ie the reliever, preventor and steroids)? My wife strongly feels it stunted her brother's growth (although he has suffered severly all his life along with and endless list of allergies, very sad). We have a strong history of asthma on both sides of the family.

Any opinions, advice or facts etc very welcome here as several doctors have kept me in the dark now thinking I'm paranoid when I just want a broader look on it all!

2 Replies

  • The reliever (blue) inhaler is very safe indeed, and has only a few short term side effects like shaking etc.

    The steroid inhaler (preventer) is also very safe. Although it does contain steroids it is an extremely small dose and because it's taken as an inhaler it goes straight to the lungs and virtually none to the rest of the body. So long term there are no side effects and it's very safe.

    The steroid tablets (prednisolone) are safe in short doses. For 3 days he will be absoloutley fine and a lot of people have 5 day courses 6/7 times a year and have no adverse side effects. Being on them long-term can have side effects (like stunted growth) but that will certainly not be considered at any point soon (based on what he's on at the moment).

    Hope that helps


  • Hello Sam,

    This is a great repository for getting the most uptodate labelling for any drug licensed in this country

    You can either look for the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) - this is the bit that you get in the box, or for the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) - this is the information that health profesionals should refer to and is more technical. Just put the name of the drug into the search box. this will give you the full details of the side-effect profile of a drug. The incidence (freqeuncies) of each side effect should now be included i.e. 1 in 100, 1 in 10,000 - this makes it easier to put the risk into context. Unfortunately side-effects are an inevitable effect of almost all therapeutics (except in theory those that are endogenous to the human body) as there is so much biochemistry common to lots of body systems. It's a matter of weighing up the benefits against the risks. Hope that is helpful on your quest for information!

    On a personal level and speaking as a parent with an asthmatic child - I hear your pain! It is such a devastating thing to have to give your child drugs regularly. I reckon it's an underestimated, really big hurdle. I always say that it goes against your feelings. But what swung it for me was seeing my child desperately ill and seeing how the medicine has turned my child's life around. I cried the first time I gave him inhaled steroids, I cried when I gave him prednisolone and cried again when he had to take an anti-histamine everyday. And I worked in the drugs industry and I work in hospitals with patients, but even so, I felt anxiety and I felt sick to the bottom of my stomach! But after a few weeks, I had a normal (ish!!) child, who could do everything with his friends that he wanted to, could sleep and feel great for it, didn't get breathless in the evenings, wasn't irritable, he also had a mum and dad who were now also sleeping properly because they weren't worried throughout the night. It changed our lives.

    Not sure if that helps much!

    Leish x

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