How Effective Is Fluticasone for Asthma?

S. Berger

Fluticasone is a medication used to treat asthma by decreasing certain immune responses that lead to breathing problems. It is a corticosteroid, related to the steroids manufactured in the body in order to perform a variety of tasks, including regulating immune responses. These types of steroids are often used to decrease asthma symptoms, although they do not cure the disorder.

A fluticasone inhaler.
A fluticasone inhaler.

The efficacy of fluticasone for asthma treatment has been demonstrated in research. These studies demonstrated that low doses of this medication, such as 50 micrograms (ug) to 100 ug per day alleviated many symptoms of asthma. Larger doses of 800 ug to 1000 ug per day were also effective, and using high doses of fluticasone for asthma often allowed the airways to open slightly more. These higher doses were associated with some side effects, however, such as hoarseness of the voice, and even the potential for fungal infections of the mouth.

An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
An illustration of the pathology of asthma.

Severe asthma cases sometimes respond differently to medications, but fluticasone for asthma in this category has still been shown to be effective. Individuals with severe cases may take very high doses of this drug, ranging from 1000 ug to 2000 ug per day. Some individuals taking the highest doses of 2000 ug per day were able to lower their oral steroid doses used to control their asthma, or even stop taking the oral steroids altogether. This benefit was not seen at doses in the 1000 ug to 1500 ug per day range, however.

Other research looking at fluticasone for asthma relief studied how this medication compares to other drugs commonly used to treat asthma. A study comparing beclomethasone and budesonide to fluticasone found that the latter drug was just as effective, if not more, than the first two drugs when given at half the dosage. People given fluticasone for asthma also tended to have somewhat better functioning in their lungs following treatment, suggesting long-term benefits from using this drug.

Patients that do not respond well to other asthma medications may be able to find relief for their symptoms with this medication. Responses to both fluticasone and montelukast, an asthma drug that works by a different mechanism, were observed in another study. Patients that did not receive a great deal of relief from montelukast were able to experience a reduction in symptoms from fluticasone. Even in a group of individuals with asthma that resisted treatment, almost one-quarter of these people obtained a beneficial effect from this drug.

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