Are steroids safe for the treatment of chest congestion?
Q: My son is 6 years and 10 months old. He takes deep breaths. About a month back, he had blockage of nostrils, especially during bed time, leading to terrible uneasiness. Gradually that lead to viral fever and we took homeopathy treatment. He became fine with occasional sneezing and nose drops. However, about a week back he complained of chest congestion and obstruction in breathing. He occasionally takes a deep breath. He also has problems of bed wetting. He is otherwise very active and runs and plays in school. His voice changes when he shouts sometimes, but gets restored within few hours or in a day. He is good at studies but does not want to sit for a long time. We took him to the child specialist. In his observation, he wrote feeling of tightness in chest during breathing more at night and after exercise. He suggested Levolin Rotacap (1-1-1) for 8 days and Budecort 100 Rotacap (1-0-1) for 8 days. Review after 8 days. I discussed with the doctor about steroids. The doctor said that this is a safe steroid. We have started the drugs. But we are terribly worried about his health. Is the treatment proper at this stage? Will he may face some other problems? Could he have stunted growth due to this, which may affect him to lead a healthy life in future?
A:Your son has most probably been diagnosed to have bronchial asthma and prescribed medicines for its treatment. Steroids are widely used in the management and prophylaxis of bronchial asthma. Many inhalational steroid preparations are available with claims of least toxicity on long term use. Budesonide is fairly safe and is most commonly used as a inhaler or nebuliser. Its use is usually limited to children with chronic recurrent breathing difficulties and not first attacks. In such cases it is given for longer periods under supervision. Steroids of other types have been used in the acute management of severe asthma not responding to conventional antiasthmatic drugs; but for a short period. Long term treatment with steroids have associated problems especially suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function. However they are safe when monitored regularly.