If you are taking a steroid for asthma, watch your bones

Disclaimer: I have asthma which would be described by most doctors as mild to moderate (as a Jewish male, I, of course, consider it to be severe).

Anyway, what that means is that for the last few years most of the physicians I’ve seen have strongly advised me to take preventive medications (read: inhaled steroids) to suppress the inflammation that produces my asthma symptoms rather than simply rely on my usual strategy of just taking enough broncho-dilator medication (Ventolin or what doctors call, salbutamol – no asthmatic ever uses that term) to ease my symptoms when my symptoms bother me too much.

But the reason I have been leery of taking regular doses of inhaled steroids for my particular situation (and OK, it’s actually a mild case) is that I have always believed that even inhaled steroids (which are always said to have fewer potential complications than their oral counterparts, which are well known to cause long-term problems such as ulcers, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and a host of other conditions) have deleterious effects that may have negative long-term consequences if you rely on them too much.

So no surprise to me, a new study concludes that like oral steroids, in the long run, inhaled steroids also lead to a higher risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture, and they do so in a dose-responsive manner, which in English means, the more inhaled steroid you use, the higher your risk of OP.

If you are taking inhaled steroids, and most people who do simply cannot stop – they must not stop – taking them (they can be literally life-saving meds), this just means that you should be doing everything you can to prevent OP.

And to especially monitor the state of your bone health as you age.