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Treatment of acute asthmatic exacerbations with an increased dose of inhaled steroid


OBJECTIVE To investigate the efficacy of an increased dose of inhaled steroid used within the context of an asthma self management plan for treating exacerbations of asthma.

DESIGN Randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, crossover trial.

METHODS Twenty eight children aged 6–14 years with asthma of mild to moderate severity were studied for six months. Eighteen pairs of exacerbations were available for analysis, during which subjects took an increased dose of inhaled steroids or continued on the same dose.

RESULTS There was no significant difference between increasing inhaled steroids or placebo on morning or evening peak expiratory flow rates (PEFRs), diurnal peak flow variability, or symptom scores in the two weeks following an asthma exacerbation. Difference (95% confidence intervals) in baseline PEFR on days 1–3 were 3.4% (−3.5% to 10.4%) and −0.9% (−4.7% to 2.9%) for inhaled steroid and placebo, respectively. Spirometric function and the parents’ opinion of the effectiveness of asthma medications at each exacerbation were also not significantly different between inhaled steroid or placebo.

CONCLUSION This study suggests that increasing the dose of inhaled steroids at the onset of an exacerbation of asthma is ineffective and should not be included in asthma self management plans.

  • asthma
  • inhaled steroids
  • self management plan
  • randomised control trial

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