An Australian study has found that more than 25% of asthma patients have been receiving potentially dangerous amounts of steroid tablets, suggesting that it is putting them at risk of serious side effects.

Researchers looked at the data from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to understand how often Australians with asthma have been taking repeated courses of steroid tablets.

Study author Prof. John Upham of the University of Queensland said we looked at more than 120,000 cases where asthma patients were given one or more prescriptions for steroid tablets by their physician from 2014 to 2018.

Upham said, “Researchers found more than 25 percent of those patients were more likely to have a chronic condition.”

“Short courses of steroid tablets can be effective at treating asthma attacks in the short term, but it’s becoming clear that repeated use may cause significant long term side effects like diabetes, osteoporosis, and cataracts,” he added.

In Australia, more than 2.5 million people have asthma, with the respiratory condition affecting more women than men.

Upham explained that the best way to prevent asthma attacks is by regularly using preventer inhalers.

He said, “Unfortunately, our study found half of the asthma patients given repeated scripts for steroid tablets were not using inhalers as often as they should.” “Better approaches are needed to educate and support asthma patients, and encourage them to use preventer inhalers regularly,” he added. “This is the best way to avoid or minimize the need for steroid tablets, and the side effects they can produce.”