Steroid side effects my child - Asthma UK communi...

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Steroid side effects my child


Daughter (8) was diagnosed with asthma 2 years ago got given brown puffer to take 2xpuffs 2x a day her behaviour changed dramatically she became very irrational with situations eg. Bedtime not getting her own way kicking off angry just not her self asked asthma nurse if anyone else had same symptoms she said no but i was adamant so she swapped her to the orange steroid puffer again 2xpuffs 2x a day and she goes through outbursts regularly even with the orange puffer. Shes seems like she may have possible anxiety, shes suffering with friendships at school at the minute taking things to heart what people say. Saying things like docs are going to take her away... shes worst kid in the world.... no body likes her.... self asteem seems low!

a very difficult situation im worried for her mental health and future and i am adamant it is the steroids that are turning her into this mess.....

Any advice and is it true its the steroids that could be making her act like this?

Where has my little girl gone from 2 years ago?

10 Replies

I'd say that this is a very rare but probably not totally impossible scenario. My son used to become a bit 'hyper' when young, but that tended to coincide with the times he was given prednisolone rather than more normal inhaler use. Nonetheless, any steroids can create a hyperactive response. I'll be honest though, it's not something I've particularly come across purely through inhaler use.

I think that the only way to check that the inhaler is the cause would be to find a way (obviously working with your GP) to look at other management strategies & see if things can be improved.

It might be that other things are going on for her as well though, which may be associated with asthma - maybe she feels weaker, or different to other children & that's impacting negatively on her perspectives of herself. There is some evidence that chronic illness can impact upon a child's self-esteem & SEMH (Social, Emotional & Mental Health) needs, & that in itself can trigger fight/flight responses. I work with children who have SEMH issues at the moment, & there's nearly always a link to some sort of trauma in their lives, which (assuming nothing else known or unknown exists) could certainly be a reaction to suddenly finding herself needing medication to be "normal".

Just to say, this is all a bit speculative as I obviously don't know her nor her situation; just a bit of food for thought which I hope can help find a way forward for you.

I think the inhaler is unlikely as a cause. When I was diagnosed after being ill as a child, I was quite depressed about it, as there was so much I couldn't do. Moreover, because asthma is unpredictable, children are often bullied about it - 'she could do it if she wanted to/she's just playing up' make you even more miserable and maybe she is just angry with Fate for doing this to her. Perhaps you could talk to her teacher to see how she is at school, and if she has grandparents, maybe she might let something slip when she's with them. Children don't like direct questions - the 'what's the matter with you?' type, but sometimes they will tell you when they are relaxed enough. Do you know any other children with asthma? Your daughter might find talking to them helps, and talking to their parents might help you.

It is very hard for you, but I'm sure you give her lots of love and time and patience and although asthma is a rotten thing to have to come to terms with, but it can be done.

we have experienced similar changes in our 7 year old from both nasal steroids and oral steroids. It may be rare but mood and behaviour changes are also listed as side effects for clenil modulite, for example. Is your daughter on the lowest possible dose? (once my son's asthma was a better controlled we went down to one puff per day only, agreed with his docs). It's hard also for them to feel they are 'different' or chronically ill, so they need a lot of unconditional love and acceptance and be allowed to show their anger if they need to, and for the parents to be as calm as possible around taking medications etc. good luck x

Have a look at

This may give you a partial explanation as to what is happening.

Worth seeing a McTimony chiropractor to help reduce tightness in her body musculature. If rib muscles are too tight and the chiropractor relaxes them then her asthma symptoms will hopefully reduce.

You say: "Where has my little girl gone from 2 years ago?" Question did she have a cold/flue before being diagnosed with asthma? It is easy to complain about change and not do something about the change. Find a martial art class to take your daughter to. The martial arts will help get her muscles moving in a relaxed way. Also help with awareness problems. A relaxed body can cope with frustration better than a tense body.

Are you relaxed at daughter's bedtime or are you keyed up for daughter's refusal to go to bed? Your keyed up stance will cause the daughter to prepare for battle. The three time rule is useful. It allows the person to prepare to do something they do not want to do with resignation. Tell her bedtime in 10 minutes, then tell her bedtime in 5 minutes and then tell her bedtime in a minute at appropriate times in a relaxed manner.

One wonders how much asthma diagnosis is a response to a particular set of symptoms rather than a reflection of what is actually happening.

Firstly it's unlikely that the steroids are causing this behaviour but it is not impossible. A person's biochemistry needs to be susceptible and then the steroid dose is usually higher. However if you want to investigate further - for a child, a hair analysis test would be simple and able to check for deficiencies in mineral levels that may lead the body to be more susceptible to anxiety. The test also looks at toxic metals. A group of American doctors specialize in this area of biochemistry and lecture in different countries. There are UK doctors trained in their methods. Their website gives you information and doctors in your area. Go to "Contact Us", then down to "FInd a Practioner" and then type in UK. There are a number of doctors on their list.

Secondly, no parent is trained in how to handle these situations. No matter how good you are, it is always best to seek training and ideas from specialists. Unfortunately most teachers are not trained in this area so look for someone else who deals in this area. In Australia there is the Triple P parenting programme which gives some good strategies and I assume there would also be something in the UK for parents. While looking at the biochemistry, it is also important to know how best to handle the stressful situations that both you and your child would be under. I have found that training really helps. Actually we all would benefit. Wishing you and your daughter and family all the best.


It sounds like you have been having a really tough time with your daughter recently. The side effects that you describe are listed but rarely occur. Inhaled steroids are the mainstay treatment for asthma but there are other treatments that could potentially be added in so that your daughter is kept well on the minimum amount of steroids so I would see your GP /Paediatric Respiratory Specialist to talk about a plan or please call our helpline on 0300 222 5800 and we can chat in more detail about all the options

When I used Budesonide it had several effects very quickly. First, I would be bolt awake in the night. Then, in the day I would become so turned off that nothing could break through and motivate me. I would force myself to do the things that I usually enjoy but would sink back all the time and not get enjoyment from anything. Steroids are weird. At the moment am on Fostair which is 100/6 steroid/reliever combination. It works better than anything I've had before and I've given up worrying too much about its side effects. One's bowel movements are never as good as they were. See for some observations and a blog about Qvar = steroid called beclomethasone (which is in Fostair too but seems OK with me in that combination.)

Not sure if you said if your daughter’s asthma is well controlled with the fluticasone inhaler? If it’s working well, at least her breathing is not a source of anxiety which with asthma is a big step forward. I agree with previous comments that steroid inhaler would very rarely be a cause of behavioural symptoms, prednisolone tablets definitely can cause hyperactivity. I’ve seen and experienced it myself! My memory of my daughter at that age is that girls at school start to have a lot more fallings out.. Talk to her teacher and see if anything can be done to improve her self esteem and interactions. They may have mentoring available from a member of staff or play therapy.Can she do a club or activity outside school that she can enjoy and meet new children. It would be less intense than school and even if doesn’t seem much contact time, she may come across them later at secondary. My two asthmatic children play clarinet and horn ... and I think it’s really helped strengthen their lungs as well as playing socially in a band, musical ability is a lower priority .Singing would be really good too. Sport doesn’t have to be the typical competitive things. Find something more unusual so she has a chance to shine,...archery, fencing, climbing wall, roller skating, trampolining. For an insight into anxiety, Matt Haig writes children’s and adult’s books. I’ve heard good things about his latest The Truth Pixie. Good luck, things will change.


I recognise those symptoms from oral steroids, I'm 65.

Hi. I understand that at your daughters age it may be difficult to determine cause for this behaviour. However i recognise the symptoms describe as i experience them with steroids. I was on steriod inhalers initially but had similar mood swings anxiety and other symptoms. I don't tolerate any foem of steroids very well and normally only use as a last resort

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