Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Advair Side Effects: How To Avoid The ER If You Have Asthma

Q. As someone who has been on daily asthma controller drugs for over 25 years, and who before that suffered periodic asthma attacks since childhood, I speak from experience when I say that anyone who makes frequent use of a rescue inhaler, such as ProAir, does not have adequately controlled asthma. I am on a daily dose of an inexpensive (generic) corticosteroid medication via a nebulizer, known as budesonide.

Prior to receiving this more effective treatment and mode of delivery, I experienced frightening episodes of “rebound asthma” from the use of Advair. No matter what brand of corticosteroid inhaler I used, toward the end of the month I experienced sharp lung pains and shortness of breath, presumably because the dose, even though they are supposedly metered, would not remain consistent. I was also frustrated with “sticker shock,” given that brand-name corticosteroid inhalers are so expensive. When I switched to a nebulizer for corticosteroid delivery, I was able to exercise for the first time in many years without routinely feeling short of breath.

For times when the Budesonide ampules are not enough, I have on hand yet another alternative: generic, extended-release albuterol tablets. If the albuterol inhalers and/or tablets are not enough, I have an even better (but costly) alternative via a nebulizer-dispensed version of albuterol, a drug called Xopenex (levalbuterol).

Because I take my asthma control medications religiously and see a doctor for bronchial infections before my asthma veers out of control, I have managed to stay out of emergency rooms for decades despite what is considered a “moderate-severe” case. I only need my rescue inhaler periodically. While I agree that the CFC-free propellants are not as good as the originals, the take-home message is that better treatment and control of one’s symptoms are necessary.

I would urge visitors to this website who have problems with asthma control to seek treatment by a specialist in pulmonology or allergy/immunology. With few exceptions, there is no reason in this day and age that one should land in an emergency room if you get adequate treatment.

A. Thank you so much for sharing your asthma experience. We agree that it is crucial to maintain good lung function in order to try to stay out of the ER, but if someone ends up in a breathing crisis, it is essential to seek immediate emergency treatment.

“Rebound” or “withdrawal asthma” is a frightening experience. If someone stops taking Advair suddenly, they could experience a serious wheezing attack. No one should ever change their treatment without careful consultation with a physician.

The “sticker shock” you refer to is not imaginary. Advair, or a similar asthma inhaler, Symbicort, can cost $250 or more for a month’s supply. The budesonide (a generic corticosteroid) you are using is no doubt more affordable. But all inhaled steroids can produce side effects including hoarseness, yeast infections in the mouth or throat, pharyngitis, sinusitis, digestive tract upset, suppression of the adrenal glands, visual problems (cataracts, glaucoma), weakened bones or osteoporosis.

Have you considered the possibility that your hard-to-treat asthma might be curable? David Hahn, MD, MPH, has just written a fascinating book titled “A Cure for Asthma? What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You–and Why.” Dr. Hahn has spent decades trying to discover the cause of difficult-to-treat breathing problems. His research has revealed that many people are infected with a nasty bacterium called Chlamydia pneumoniae. His data suggest that this bug lingers in the lungs and can trigger inflammation and airway constriction. Dr. Hahn believes that many people can overcome the infection with the proper course of antibiotics.

To learn more about the science and read amazing stories from people who have benefited from Dr. Hahn’s research and regimen, check out his brand new book, A Cure for Asthma? You can watch a video with Dr. Hahn and Jim Quinlan, whose story is featured in the book.

We are proud to be publishing this ground-breaking book. If you know someone with asthma, please let him or her know about this important information. We are offering an early bird discount for those who place the order before our official publication date of November 28th. Save 15% by ordering today. The discount code when you check out is CURE15. Here is a link to more information about Dr. Hahn’s provocative new book. If you want to go straight to the shopping cart, here is the link.

Rate this article
3.6- 22 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.