Q. What are the side effects for the regular asthma inhalers? I am taking an inhaler (non-steroid one) for my asthma and I wanted to know what can be possible side effects to this treatment.
A. Simple inhalers that contain a material that helps with keeping the bronchi not constricted, have side effects that are related to the sympathetic nervous system- such as slight tremor, small increase in heart rate or blood pressure, but these are all in greater risk when taking in a not-inhaled way. Patients must be cautioned against using these medicines too frequently, as with such use their efficacy may decline, producing desensitization resulting in an exacerbation of symptoms which may lead to refractory asthma, meaning that the attack might not be relieved by these medications anymore.
The following observations relevant to systemic absorption were made in clinical studies. In one uncontrolled study a statistically significant decrease in responsiveness to metyrapone was noted in 15 adult steroid-independent patients treated with mg of flunisolide per day (the maximum recommended dose) for 3 months. A small but statistically significant drop in eosinophils from % to % of total circulating leucocytes was noted in another study in children who were not taking oral corticosteroids simultaneously. A 5% incidence of menstrual disturbances was reported during open studies, in which there were no control groups for comparison.