Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Steroid Medicine for Asthma: Myths and Facts
NOTICE: For the safety of our patients and employees, masks are still required at all Cone Health facilities.COVID-19 Info: Current Trends | Vaccine Scheduling | Visitor Guidelines | COVID-19 Testing | More
Asthma is more than a day-to-day problem that makes your life difficult. Over time it damages your airways and lungs. That damage can lead to serious health problems. So it's important to keep your asthma under control with medicine.
Daily controller medicine prevents asthma attacks. It helps stop problems before they happen. It also reduces inflammation in your lungs. These things help you control your asthma. A daily controller medicine isn't used to treat an asthma attack, because it works too slowly.
Quick-relief medicine is for times when you can't prevent symptoms and need to treat them fast. It's not intended as the daily medicine you take to control your asthma.
One of the best tools for managing asthma is a controller medicine that has a corticosteroid ("steroid"). But some people worry about taking steroid medicines for asthma because of myths they've heard about them.
If you're making a decision about using a steroid inhaler, it helps to know the facts.
Facts about steroid medicine
"No matter how I take steroids, the side effects are the same."
The inhaled steroids in asthma medicine go just to the site of the problem—your lungs. This is different than the kind of steroids you inject or take in a pill, which go throughout the body and are riskier.
"Taking inhaled steroids will make me grow muscles and hair."
The steroids in asthma medicine are a different type of steroid than the muscle-building, hair-growing kind. And because you inhale the medicine, it goes right to your lungs where it's needed.
"Taking inhaled steroids will stunt my child's growth."
For children, there may be a slight slowing in growth from inhaled steroids. The difference in height is very small, and this side effect is rare. footnote 1, footnote 2 But for most people, this is made up for by the improved ability to breathe because of the positive effects of the medicine.
"I can control my asthma using only my quick-relief inhaler."
Many people will only find relief and get good control over their asthma by using controller medicine.
Guilbert TW, et al. (2006). Long-term inhaled corticosteroids in preschool children at high risk for asthma. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(19): 1985–1997.
Kelly HW, et al. (2012). Effect of inhaled glucocorticoids in childhood on adult height. New England Journal of Medicine, 367(10): 904–912.
Current as of:
July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.