When used in high doses, a small amount of the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream and some side effects beyond the mouth and throat may develop. The most likely to be encountered are easy bruisability of the skin and suppression of the adrenal glands. The significance of adrenal gland suppression is discussed in further detail in the pamphlet entitled Asthma and Steroids in Tablet Form , prepared by the Partners Asthma Center. The risk from the long-term use of inhaled steroids in terms of hastening thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) is currently being studied. However, it is widely agreed that any risk that may be discovered will be far less than that resulting from use of steroids in tablet form in doses needed to achieve the same control of asthma.
A severe attack of asthma that is not getting better with other treatments is dangerous. A short course of oral steroids for severe asthma can often keep you from being rushed to the Emergency Department of the hospital for treatment of your asthma, can prevent the need for hospitalization, and—in an extreme case—can save your life. Many asthmatic patients have said that when you need them, oral steroids "work like a miracle." If needed to treat severe asthma, oral steroids should not be avoided; they should be taken promptly. Their risk comes only with overuse or prolonged continuous use; and long-term oral steroid use is not necessary for the vast majority of persons with asthma because other effective treatment strategies are readily available