Steroids, Oral

What does this drug do?

Oral steroids reduce swelling, inflammation, and mucus production in the airways. They help control and prevent symptoms of asthma. Oral steroids are strong medicines that are most often used for speeding up relief of moderate to severe asthma episodes. If your child has severe asthma, an oral steroid may also be used as a long-term control medicine, also called a controller.

Although oral steroids are used for speeding up relief, they do not:

  • immediately open the airways
  • provide immediate relief of wheezing or acute asthma attacks.

There are other quick-relief, reliever, or "rescue" medicines available that quickly open airways and are used to treat acute asthma attacks.

What are other names for this drug?

Some of the names for oral steroids are prednisone, prednisolone (Prelone Syrup, Pediapred Oral Solution, Orapred Syrup, Orapred ODT), and methylprednisolone (Medrol).

How is it taken?

Oral steroids can be taken as pills, chewable tablets, or syrup. Steroid medicine has a bitter taste. Have your child swallow the pills quickly and not hold them in his mouth. The chewable tablets (Orapred ODT) are flavored to decrease the bitter taste. The syrup also has a bitter taste or after taste and is best swallowed quickly. After swallowing, quickly have your child take a drink of another liquid to rinse his mouth. It is best not to take this medicine on an empty stomach.

What is the usual dose?

There is no usual dose of steroids. They are carefully prescribed by your healthcare provider for a specific amount of time. In general, when a steroid is prescribed for less than 10 days gradually decreasing doses before stopping the medicine is not required. Steroids taken daily or every other day for over 10 days should not be stopped without checking with your healthcare provider first.

Your prescribed dose of ______________________ is _____ mg to be taken ______ times a day for _____ days.

What side effects can steroids cause?

Steroid side effects vary from person to person and depend on how much, how often, and how long the medicine is taken. The most common side effect of steroids taken orally for a short time are increased appetite, trouble sleeping, headache, restlessness, and mood changes.

Side effects of oral steroids taken daily, for long periods of time, or at high doses can be serious and may take a long time to go away once the medicine is stopped. Talk with your healthcare provider about possible side effects.

What special instructions should be followed?

Always take the prescribed amount for the length of time prescribed. Do not change the dose or stop taking the medicine without checking with your healthcare provider. Your child should not be vaccinated while taking steroids without your healthcare provider's approval..

Written by the Asthma Task Force at The Children's Hospital, Denver.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-01-09
Last reviewed: 2008-12-29
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2009 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.