1,637 in Cavan with asthma use Corticosteroids


Almost 102,000 people who filled a prescription for asthma inhalers from a retail pharmacy in 2020 also filled a prescription for Oral Corticosteroids, with 1,637 people in Cavan using the medication.

The Asthma Society of Ireland research finds that 27% of all asthma patients were prescribed Oral Corticosteroids (steroid tablets) in the past year and encourages people with asthma who have needed steroid tablets twice in one year to seek an asthma review with their doctor.

Oral Corticosteroid is a medical term for steroid tablets. They are an anti-inflammatory medicine prescribed for a wide range of conditions, including asthma and COPD. They are typically prescribed for two purposes in asthma - short courses are commonly used to treat asthma attacks or they can be prescribed as ongoing daily maintenance therapy for people with severe asthma.

The research revealed that whilst there was an overall decrease in people being prescribed the medication in 2020, down by 20% during the months of the pandemic, the numbers of people with asthma who needed the medication, and the frequency of use, remain high.

Some 82,500 people with asthma collected up to two Oral Corticosteroid prescriptions over a 12-month period – an indication that they may not have their asthma under control.

The continual need to prescribe steroid tablets for a patient with mild to moderate asthma should signify that they need a review by their GP. The person with asthma may not be taking their “controller” inhaler every day or they may not be using it properly.

Reassuringly, the figures indicate Oral Corticosteroid use amongst children fell by almost a third from 2018 to 2020 by 31% compared to 10% among adults during the same period.

Oral Corticosteroids can also be associated with significant harmful side effects as a result of long-term use. Research now indicates that even occasional short courses of Oral Corticosteroids can be associated with increased health risks.

Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland says the organisation's aim is to educate the public on what Oral Corticosteroid medication is, and to understand when they should and should not be used.

“Importantly, if a person with asthma is experiencing continued bouts of asthma attacks despite taking their controller and reliever medication as prescribed, I would like to encourage them to contact their GP and request an asthma review and an updated personalised Asthma Action Plan.”