Can inhaled corticosteroids cause adrenal insufficiency?

Can it?


Comments 12

  • Amber Says Shine

    Hi @Breatheeasy - I hadn't heard of this connection, so I did a google search. Here's a quote from a research study that did a meta-analysis of other studies: "ICS [inhaled corticosteroid medication] is associated with AS [adrenal suppression, milder form of adrenal insufficiency] in a minority of patients who are on ICS for their respiratory conditions with potential serious consequences, especially in a physiologically stressful condition." You can read the whole study here: 

    Is there something in particular you're concerned about with your (or a loved one's) treatment plan and its side effects? Maybe you could bring up these questions with your primary doc or specialist. 



  • K8sMom2002

    Breatheeasy, I love Amber's suggestion to bring up your concerns with your doctor. Each person has a unique situation and medical history, and your doctor will know your situation better than anyone.

    For instance, suppose your asthma was currently under control with an ICS. But you stopped taking it out of fear for the side effects. Would you be required then to treat your asthma with much larger doses of oral corticosteroids just to get it back under control? That might expose you to a much larger dose of steroids and risk than having a lower dose for a longer time.

    A friend suggested a wonderful approach to me some years ago, and I have really benefitted from this line of thinking. She told me to ask the following question:

    "Doctor, if there were a hundred people in a room JUST LIKE ME, how many of them would stand up and say, 'Yes, I had that side effect or adverse reaction?"

    That helps me visualize how likely that risk really is, and how comfortable I am with taking that risk — or not taking it.

    Another friend gave me this wonderful discussion tool that I just love … you may have seen me mention it before.


    B – benefits – what are the benefits of taking this particular medication or doing this particular procedure? When should I see those benefits begin to happen?

    R – risks – what are the risks or downsides of taking this particular medication or doing this particular procedure? How likely is it that I will have these happen to me?

    A – alternatives – what are the alternatives or different approaches? What made you decide that these weren't the best choice in my particular situation?

    N – nothing – if we do nothing, if we instead opt to do "watchful waiting," what would happen in the short term? What about the long term? How long would you recommend watchful waiting if I wanted to try that?

    D – decision – what we decide together — me, my doctor, my family.

    Every medication, supplement, "natural treatment," surgery, or procedure — and even doing nothing — carries at least some element of risk and adverse reactions. 

    But I have to weigh that POSSIBLE risk (which is usually very small) against the DEFINITE risk of untreated disease. 

    Figuring out which is the right path for you, with your unique health history, is an individual process, one that your doctor can help you with.

    You're not alone, and there is no judgment here. We want the same thing you want — the thing that is best for you and reflects your preferred level of risk.

  • Wheezy Me

    Breatheeasy, medically significant adrenal insufficiency is very, VERY rare with ICS. It can happen with high dose ICS but even then, it is usually mild (meaning it can be detected in research settings but doesn't show itself in real life).

    On the other hand, when ICS are taken regularly and properly, they may prevent the need for systemic steroids, which are a far more common cause of adrenal insufficiency. 

  • Breatheeasy

    I am fine. Broke out all over the body in tiny itchy bumps. went to the dermatologist.found out that my IgE levels are moderately elevated. Have a follow up soon. Wondering what it could be.

  • Breatheeasy

    I have eczema. I did change my soap and I changed it again to see if it’ll make a difference. Fingers crossed it works. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs on the contact dermatitis … hoping that the new soap was the issue and the old one will get things back to normal.