Are asthma inhalers dangerous?

Older adults who use steroid inhalers to treat asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more likely to develop bacterial infections, according to a study.
Worldwide, asthma and COPD affect hundreds of thousands of people and are often treated with steroid inhalers to reduce symptoms and improve lung function. However, the new study suggests that these inhalers also increase the risk of developing lung infections caused by non-tuberculous mycobacteria, which are notoriously difficult to treat and resistant to a number of common antibiotics.
The study was conducted at the University of Toronto, Canada. The authors noted that such infections are not particularly common, but they are chronic, associated with an increased risk of death, and difficult to treat. Usually, treatment requires at least three antibiotics over a year or more, but this may not solve the problem of an infectious disease.
The study included about 450,000 people with COPD or asthma, aged sixty-six or older, who were prescribed at least one medication for their condition. It turned out that 2,966 were also diagnosed with non-tuberculous mycobacteria infections, and experts compared this information with whether these patients used steroid inhalers, the type of steroid they used, and the number of applications. It was found that in people who used steroid inhalers , were twice as likely to be diagnosed with this type of infection, and the longer they took the steroid, the higher the risk. The scientists also found that one particular type of steroid was particularly effective in this regard. Previous research has shown that steroid inhalers interfere with the body’s ability to fight infections by reducing or weakening cells in the immune system. According to the authors, such inhalers are critical treatments for asthma symptoms in most patients. Although work has also shown that they provide benefits to patients with COPD, such agents are less important in the management of this condition and may only provide more benefit than harm in a subset of patients with COPD. There is an ongoing debate about which COPD patients should be treated with inhaled steroids.

event_note January 20, 2022

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