Anti-inflammatories are drugs that are used to reduce swelling and inflammation in the airways. For patients with conditions that cause inflammation in the lungs, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, anti-inflammatory drugs can make it easier to breathe. Most commonly, the anti-inflammatories used for lung conditions are steroids, specifically, corticosteroids or glucocorticosteroids. These steroids are not the same as the illegal anabolic steroids used to build muscles.
Steroid medications are most often inhaled using an inhaler. This delivers the drug directly to the lungs, which allows you to take a lower dose of the drug while still receiving a benefit. Steroids can also be taken orally in pill form, or in rare cases, intravenously. When steroids are taken orally, the dose must be higher than the dose in inhaled steroids.
Some patients experience side effects from inhaled steroids, including bruising, oral infections, and hoarseness. Side effects from oral steroids can be more serious due to the larger dose. These can include bruising, cataracts, weight gain, high blood sugar levels, osteoporosis (weakening of the bones), and swelling in the ankles or feet.