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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 14, Suppl C, Pages 1C-7C
Oral Corticosteroids in Asthma

Oral Corticosteroids in Asthma: A Review of Benefits and Risks

Robert Schellenberg,1 Jonathan D R Adachi,2 Dennis Bowie,3 Jacques Brown,4 Lyn Guenther,5 Tina Kader,6 and Graham E Trope7

1St Paul’s Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2St Joseph’s Healthcare, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
3Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
4Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
5London Health Sciences Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
6Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
7University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Oral corticosteroids (OCS) play an integral role in the pharmacological management of asthma, as well as a number of other inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. However, although their broad spectrum of effect is beneficial in controlling inflammation, it can also lead to undesirable effects on other cells, resulting in adverse effects. The purpose of the present review is to discuss the particular benefits of OCS and to outline the optimal role of these agents in the management of asthma, drawing on evidence-based medicine and current clinical practice guidelines. The mandate for the present review also covers an analysis of the risk:benefit ratio as it pertains to OCS use in asthma. The more common adverse effects will be discussed and weighed against the possible benefits.