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Patients requiring oral corticosteroids should be weaned slowly from systemic corticosteroid use after transferring to Advair HFA. Prednisone reduction can be accomplished by reducing the daily prednisone dose by mg on a weekly basis during therapy with Advair HFA. Lung function (mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV 1 ] or morning peak expiratory flow [AM PEF]), beta-agonist use, and asthma symptoms should be carefully monitored during withdrawal of oral corticosteroids. In addition, patients should be observed for signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, such as fatigue, lassitude, weakness, nausea and vomiting, and hypotension.
Inhaled Steroids (such as Flovent, Pulmicort, and Qvar): Inhaled steroids can be safely given daily for asthma maintenance control. Because the medication is only going to the lungs (where it is needed) and not to the rest of the body, none of the long-term side effects of oral steroids are experienced. There have been exhaustive studies demonstrating that inhaled steroids given daily are safe and effective, and are considered first line therapy for asthma maintenance. These medications generally take a week or more to reach maximal effectiveness. One should NEVER attempt to use these medications in place of a rescue inhaler for acute symptoms. Because these medications work slowly, we will often start patients on a 3-7 day oral steroid "burst." When the oral steroid is finished, we will often then start an inhaled steroid to safely continue daily anti-inflammatory maintenance therapy.