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Is your health at risk about a new study links changes in brain structure to drugs used to treat allergies and asthma?

Your age, your symptoms, the severity of your asthma, and any adverse drug reactions will all affect the types and dosages of asthma medications you need. The information below should be talked about with your doctor if you are on any of these medications consistently and  have reactions listed in the study below.

According to new research, glucocorticoids, a typical steroid used to treat inflammation brought on by allergies and asthma, have been linked to cognitive impairment and changes in the brain’s white matter. The new study, which was reported as the biggest of its type to date to evaluate the relationship between glucocorticoid use and brain shape and was published in BMJ Open, discovered that effects on the brain happened whether glucocorticoids were taken orally or breathed.

The study author Merel van der Meulen, a postdoctoral student at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands wrote, “This study shows that both systemic and inhaled glucocorticoids are associated with an apparently widespread reduction in white matter integrity,” White matter, which is tissue that connects brain cells to the rest of the nervous system, is located in the deeper brain tissues. According to studies, when the white matter is destroyed, It can lead to problems with walking, balance, and memory. Additionally connected to sadness, anxiety, and possibly bipolar disease is white matter damage.

Glucocorticoids are among the most commonly prescribed medicines on the market because of their immunosuppressive characteristics. Asthma, allergies, and a few autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease, eczema, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis are all treated with them, according to Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD, a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Medications like prednisone and Flonase (fluticasone) are examples of common glucocorticoids.

Glucocorticoid inhalers should not be confused with quick-relief inhalers used to stop an asthma attack. Quick-relief inhalers contain non-steroid medications that relax the muscles in the lungs, such as albuterol, levalbuterol and pirbuterol, which can open airways in minutes. Inhaled corticosteroids do not work in emergencies — they are prescribed for longer-term control of inflammatory conditions. However, research has indicated that asthma sufferers are more likely than non-asthmatics to experience cognitive and memory decline in later life.

Are the Results Reason for Concern?

The study discovered that those who consistently use oral steroids for extended periods of time have the most severe white matter damage. Chronic oral steroid users evaluated slower in terms of mental processing speed than non-users. Additionally, apathy, despair, weariness, and restlessness were more common among oral steroid users than in non-users.

According to a number of experts, these study results shouldn’t raise any red flags. Even when glucocorticoids are implicated, white matter may still be able to heal itself, the brain appears to recover once people stop using steroids.

But l a few experts draw attention to the fact that the current study did not focus on how these steroids would affect the white brain matter over the long run. Long-term oral glucocorticoid use has been related in certain studies to structural alterations in the brain as well as to some parts of the brain shrinking. The drug class has also been linked in research to mental health problems.

It is advised  check in with your doctor if you’re taking glucocorticoids at a high dose and for a prolonged period of time.

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