Inhaled budesonide in the management of acute worsenings and exacerbations of asthma: A review of the evidence

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The use of systemic corticosteroids, together with bronchodilators and oxygen therapy, has become established for the management of acute asthma. These agents are undoubtedly effective, but are also associated with problems such as metabolic adverse effects. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) offer potential benefit in the acute setting because they are delivered directly to the airways. They are also likely to reduce systemic exposure, which would lead in turn to reductions in rates of unwanted systemic effects. In order to evaluate the role of budesonide in the management of acute asthma exacerbations we conducted a review of the literature and critically evaluated the rationale for the use of ICS in general in this setting. Trials in adults and children requiring treatment for acute exacerbation of asthma have shown clinical and/or spirometric benefit for budesonide when delivered via nebulizer, dry powder inhaler, or aerosol in the emergency department, hospital and follow-up settings. The efficacy seems to benefit from high doses given repeatedly during the initial phase of an acute exacerbation. These acute effects are likely to be linked to the drug's distinctive pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile. The current evidence base revealed encouraging results regarding the efficacy of the ICS budesonide in patients with wheeze and acute worsening of asthma. Future studies should focus on the efficacy of these agents in more severe asthma worsenings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-695
Number of pages11
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute asthma
  • Budesonide
  • Efficacy


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