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Monday, June 24, 2013

Does asthma medication stunt your growth?

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I know some people wonder if asthma medicine will stunt their child's growth. Sometimes people worry about side effects when they hear the word "steroid." Inhaled corticosteroids are used daily for asthma to control inflammation in the lungs. AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology) says they are NOT the same steroids that body builders use!

This is a list of some of the most commonly used inhaled corticosteroids from AAAAI :

  • Flovent diskus or inhaler
  • Pulmicort flexhaler 
  • Asmanex
  • Alvesco 
  • Aerobid
  • Qvar
 If your child is taking any of these, relax. An article from Webmd says the estimated height that can be lost by someone from using inhaled corticosteroids is 1/2". That's it. And that doesn't mean it will happen to every child.

My Son #2 has severe asthma and has been hospitalized 8 times and almost died twice. At age 18, he is almost 6 foot tall now. At age 22, Son #1 has mild asthma, has never been hospitalized, and is 5' 6". So how does the son who has been on a LOT more asthma medication over the years end up TALLER than his brother? No idea. 

The take away from this post is that I wouldn't stop giving my child asthma medicine because I was worried it might make them a 1/2" shorter. Daily, controller medicine can keep the swelling down in the lungs and prevent more serious asthma attacks, and for my kids, can help avoid hospitalizations.

American Lung Association has a section that talks about the effects of swelling in the lungs:

"Poor asthma management can lead to airway remodeling. Airway remodeling is a serious condition that happens when asthma is untreated or poorly managed. The lungs become scarred, asthma medicines do not work as well, and less air is able to move through the airways. Airway remodeling does not have to happen. "
I don't want my teenagers to have damaged lungs because they didn't take their daily asthma medicine. Our teenagers have regular checkups with the asthma doctor. Depending on how they are doing, he adjusts their medicine. If they're still coughing at night or using their rescue inhaler more than twice a week, he will "step up" their medicine. (Increase the dose or add another medicine). If they are doing well, he can "step down" their medicine. (Decrease a dose or have them stop taking a medicine) 

If you are worried about the medicine your child takes, do a little research and talk to your doctor. He's there to help you!


  1. Thanks for this information! My son is taking prednisone (short term) for some bad hive issues (a result of either a virus or exposure to peanut cross contamination). I was worried about the effects of the steroids he also takes for his seasonal allergies. This post made me feel a bit more at ease, so thank you!
    Incidentally- I have a question for you that is off this topic-- can asthma sufferers have rugs or curtains in their home? I'm curious. Thanks very much for any advice!

    1. Hi Meg, thanks for stopping by! I think we worry a lot as moms and we want to protect our kids. But that also means making sure they can breathe! So, rest easy!

      I have wood floors, but I do have area rugs and curtains. I vacuum the wood floors and area rugs twice a week. I also wash curtains every spring and fall. For me, they are easier to clean than blinds. I have cleaning all those slats...

      Everything in your home can affect asthma, the key is to keep things clean and dust free. My asthma doc has even recommended that we don't store anything under our kids beds. That area is a big dust trap, and then the kids sleep on top of the dust, leading to asthma problems.

      It's a lot of trial and error. Try rugs and curtains, and keeping things clean and see how your son does. Everyone with asthma is a little different, so try it out and see what works for you and your son. If he seems to be coughing, wheezing or short or breath, you may want to consider scaling back on the rugs and curtains.

      I love the way rugs and curtains look, so I am just determined to keep my house clean!

      Good luck!! :)