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Treating asthma with inhaled steroids Consumer-Report-Logo
Comparing effectiveness, safety, and price

At-a-glance

Advice and Recommendations from Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs


Inhaled steroids reduce and prevent inflammation, swelling, and mucus build-up in your airways and lungs to help prevent asthma attacks and help you breathe easier.

But not everyone with asthma needs an inhaled steroid. Sometimes lifestyle adjustments— including quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to asthma triggers , such as pet dander or mold —work well enough. On the other hand, many people who could benefit from an inhaled steroid don't use one of these medicines. So if your asthma symptoms are persistent and you have frequent asthma attacks, talk to your doctor about an inhaled steroid.

Taking effectiveness, safety, and cost into account, we have chosen the following steroid inhalers as our Best Buys for treating adult and childhood asthma.

  • Beclomethasone (QVAR): For adults and children ages 5 years and older.
  • Generic budesonide suspension nebulizer: For children ages 1 year and older.

Related Topics


Beclomethasone (QVAR) is as effective and safe as other inhaled steroids, and it is the least expensive, ranging from $142 to $177 per month, depending on dose. But if you or your child needs a higher strength to control asthma symptoms, that can increase the cost. If an inhaled steroid does not help or does not relieve your symptoms enough, current guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend adding a long-acting bronchodilator, such as salmeterol (Serevent Diskus) or formoterol (Foradil), so ask your doctor if that makes sense in your case.

We chose generic budesonide suspension nebulizer for children ages 1 year or older because it is the only inhaled steroid FDA-approved for kids that young. You could save up to $168 by taking the generic version instead of the brand-name counterpart, Pulmicort Respules. But the generic is not available at the highest dose (1 mg/2 mL), so if your child needs a dose that high, you will have to opt for the brand name Pulmicort Respules, which is very expensive at a retail price of $778 per month.



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