My 5-year-old daughter has asthma. What is the effect of using an asthma preventer long-term? I heard that using it for years might cause bone shrinkage. Is it true?
Yes. It is a life long problem for which no cure is available. Drugs are available which can prevent or abort an attack or reduce the symptoms. Corticoids have been found to be useful in preventing an acute attack of asthma and keep the affected person comfortable in chronic asthma. Long term use of these externally used steroids, tends to affect blood pressure blood sugar and bone density.
In young girls it can cause masculinizing features; like increase in body hair and hoarse voice. Most importantly, these steroids reduce the immunity of the body, thus impairing the ability to fight diseases. Considering these adverse effects, steroids are given in a lowest possible dose, in inhaled form. The onset of action in this form is also more rapid as compared to when taken in a pill form. Long term use of steroid inhalers can give rise to fungal infection in the mouth, cataracts and osteoporosis. The risk of osteoporosis with inhaled corticoids is much less as compared with oral steroids.
You should clearly consider the risks of asthma attacks versus use of corticoids, discuss it with his treating doctor and then go ahead with use of inhaled corticoids.