The aim of this article is to bring less well recognised adverse effects of inhaled corticosteroids to the attention of prescribers. Whilst inhaled steroids have a more favourable side effect profile than systemic steroids, they are not free from adverse effects. The dose of inhaled steroids used should be carefully monitored, and kept at the lowest dose necessary to maintain adequate control of the patient’s disease process. Be particularly aware of the cumulative effect of co-prescribing various dose forms of corticosteroids (inhaled, intranasal, oral and topical preparations).
There is no evidence of safe and effective use of topical corticosteroids in pregnant mothers. Therefore, they should be used only if clearly needed. Long term use and large applications of topical corticosteroids may cause birth defects in the unborn. It is not known whether topical corticosteroids enter breast milk. Therefore, caution must be exercised before using it in nursing mothers. Topical corticosteroids should not be applied to the breasts of nursing mothers unless the mothers instructed to do so by the physician.
Kaposi's sarcoma has been reported to occur in patients receiving corticosteroid
therapy. Discontinuation of corticosteroids may result in clinical remission.
Although controlled clinical trials have shown corticosteroids to be effective in speeding the resolution of acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis , they do not show that corticosteroids affect the ultimate outcome or natural history of the disease. The studies do show that relatively high doses of corticosteroids are necessary to demonstrate a significant effect. (See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION .)