Health complications from using a preventer long term?

Hi everyone, I´m new to asthma and hate having to take my Nexthaler twice a day as I´m sure it wont do my long term health any good, so I try not to use it unless I´m really forced to. I realise this is probably not what you´re supposed to do, but have read it can cause liver/kidney problems etc long term. Having said that I went to the docs the other day, he listened to my chest, said it was clear and that I could stop using it. However the specialist I see says I need to use it twice a day to prevent symptoms returning and that it I do use it twice a day then I do have asthma.

I find this really confusing. I did stop using it for a week or so, then found the symptoms returned again, tight heavy chest, finding it heavy to breathe, so I used it yesterday twice and once again this morning and feel fine now - but whether to go on using it regularly - or spasmodically?

To be honest, I think my symptoms could be stress instead of asthma as have recently ended a really bad relationship and found initially if I used rescue remedy instead of the inhaler then the symptoms went away, to a certain extent.

Am sneezing again toda though even though taking my daily antihistamina (again can long term use of these cause health problems?) Have been on one a day for two years now with a dust allergy before needing the inhaler.

Its so confusing when one doctor says one thing and my highly respected GP says another.

Thanks for your help

12 Replies

  • There is little doubt that long-term inhaler use has consequences, and that using them has side effects.

    If you read the information leaflet of any drug you'd wonder why you ever take anything as they all seem to imply that you are about to be consumed by a tidal wave of physical & mental destruction. However they record EVERY known side-effect, even those that might only have affected 1 in 100000 or more people. And nobody gets them all.

    In simple terms though, those effects generally pale into insignificance compared to the damage that badly managed asthma will do to you.

    If you stopped taking it & your symptoms returned, my simple brain says that what is in your best interests is to keep taking it!!

  • I've been on inhaled steroids for nearly thirty years now, and apart from a dose of oesophageal thrush (and the cause of that is disputed) I have had no side effects. If I did what you are currently doing, it would be only a matter of time before I would be having serious problems (if I was lucky I might go a week - unlucky probably less than 48 hours) and my asthma is not severe - it's moderate and most of the time I have a clear chest. Remember that in the UK three people die of the condition every day.

    If you look at some of the past posts on this forum, you will come across people whose asthma symptoms have been mild for years, and then suddenly they become much more serious. That could happen to any one of us. Our first line of defence is those steroid inhalers. Autumn and winter are particularly risky times. Twenty five years ago I was on medication that was not quite strong enough to control my asthma properly. Some days I would be fine, others not. I began to get secondary infections from colds (something that hadn't happened since I was an undiagnosed asthmatic as a small child) and then one day I developed a tight little cough, having been absolutely fine the day before. Forty eight hours later I was in hospital with pneumonia aggravated asthma: I was in hospital for five days.

    It is true that stress can exacerbate asthma, but the fact remains that the underlying condition is there. You yourself state that using a rescue remedy instead of your inhaler made the symptoms go away, but " a certain extent." That implies that whatever you were doing was not fully effective.

  • Thank you so much for that post and I have to agree with you. I think the confusion for me, lies in the fact that my GP and specialist are saying different things. The GP listens to my chest, sees it is clear and says I don't need the inhaler, the specialist simply says f you are using it twice a day then you have asthma, but then on the other hand he says just use it when you need it, but doesn't say that's asthma as well.

    I know I'm in denial because I don't want to be asthmatic.

    And you are right I was off the inhaler for just over a week and now I feel bad and have to use it again, so I will just have to be sensible now, ignore both of them to a certain extent and take the inhaler.

    Thanks again

  • You are very welcome, and I'm glad I could help:-)

  • Hello! I really empathise with what you are feeling as I too have these concerns. I was diagnosed at 20 and am now 43 and have resisted medication when I am well. My problem months are, historically October-March and I was eventually allowed to come off meds in the summer months and advised to go back on the preventer inhaler in September. However the past few years I have been absoltely fine and so stopped all medication all year round. I use a lot of alternative therapies and these have really helped and I genuinely believed that my asthma had gone.

    6 weeks ago I got a mild sore throat, not even a full blown cold. 2 days later I ended up in hospital with a near-fatal attack and I am still off work. My breathing only stabilised 3 days ago, with another increase in the horrible drug concoction I am on. I am completely incapacitated, unable to do anything at all, and at the moment am feeling really low and wondering how on earth I am going to get back to health and life.

    I really wish that I had stayed on my little brown inhaler!! It seems so small and insignificant now, compared to the huge pile of inhalers and tablets that I am now taking 3 times a day, plus the awful range of accompanying side effects. I won't ever know for certain whether this illness would have been prevented, but I am pretty sure it wouldn't have been so severe.

    I know its confusing when you are given conflicting advice, and I know too well the desire to be medication free, but do listen to your body - it does sound as though your meds help.

    Good luck! xxx

  • I am so sorry for you and truly hope you soon become a lot better. If you like I could send distance Reiki to you, as I´m sure it would relax you - just let me know.

    You´re right I better keep taking the preventer. I have a sore throat and a cough already but I think that is the preventer. I have been back on it a few days now and chest is feeling better but throat worse so have tried sucking strepsils, which help to a certain extent but I am still very hoarse. I met some new people yesterday and felt very foolish as I could not talk to them.

    Thank you again xxx

  • How thoroughly are you rinsing out after taking your inhaler? Try gargling, cleaning teeth, and then gargling again after you've used your steroid inhaler. That is (according to the respiratory consultant I saw last year) 'about right' apparently.

  • Hi, thanks for the reply. I have always done that on the doctors recommendation, I even tried adding an antibacterial mouthwash to the routine as well. Now I have started sucking extra strength strepsils two or three times a day and that seems to be working!

  • I am 59 and have always been asthmatic. I take a preventative steroid inhaler twice a day(Qvar) and Ventolin about once or twice a week. I used to take antihistamines most days ,as you do,but for the last two years have been on a once daily tablet which is primarily for allergic asthma. My allergies ,both asthmatic and others,are now under control and I do not take antihistamines at all now. The tablet is Montelukast. This apparently does not work for everyone but may be worth a try.... Since being on this my asthma and allergies are much ,much better.

    I take my preventer inhaler as it was explained to me by an asthma specialist that this will control symptons and inflammation in my lungs and protect them from damage.

    It is hard to accept that you have a long term health issue such as asthma and I understand your worries about long term issues from inhalers....but if your steroid inhaler works then please use it to protect yourself from potential asthma attacks and general low key breathlessness.

    I struggled badly as a child and simply breathing was often difficult for me and these types of inhalers have allowed me to live an active ,healthier life once they were available from when I was in my late twenties.

    I hope this helps.

  • Thank you for that advice, have started to use it again, its just that the advice between the doctor and the specialist are so at odds and so I sway back and forth between them.

    I will certainl ask about the Montelukast as I have an appointment with the specialist next week and will let you know.

  • Hi

    Looking through for some help on an issue I have and reading this (your post!). It does make me wander how some Drs ever got through med school!! Your preventer is for exactly what it says on the tin!!! Use it.

    The reason I say is many people say they don't feel it's doing anything is because you don't notice it is actually working - you stopped symptoms return

    Long term used properly and monitored with essential check ups with specialists of that field not general docs will essentially out way any risk of liver/kidney issues.

    What is defo is you will never see an improvement if you stop/start mess whereas the other are possible side effects. But yes stress is one of the biggest antagonists of asthma, maybe speak with your nurse about some antihistamine or alternative to assist through difficult time... Keep taking preventer

    Good luck, stay well

  • Thanks for your message. Yes I will keep taking it now I know what's it like to be off it. I will still have to see my general Doctor as I cannot afford private prescriptions so he is useful in that respect. I would be paying 60 euros for something I can get for 3 euros otherwise!

    I already take an antihistamine as apparently it is dust related.

    Am feeling a lot better now, less panicky and am due to see the specialist on Thursday.

    Thanks again for your help.

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