Should oral steroids be routinely supplied to prevent asthmatic relapse?

In 2014, the National review of Asthma Deaths recognised the significant burden of associated morbidity, amongst avoidable factors and recent contact with healthcareprofessionals that commonly occur prior to a fatal asthma exacerbation. It also recognised delayed and undersupply of preventer medications, particularly oral steroids, that are linked to relapsing into a repeat exacerbation. Oral steroids are not without significant systemic side effects and carry their own risks which must be balanced against the risk of relapse. This literature review seeks to establish if oral steroids should be routinely supplied to prevent asthmatic relapse. Exacerbations induced by viruses, allergies and medications are commonly known to contribute towards deterioration and these high risk patients have been found to gain the most benefit from a 7-10 day course of oral steroids. This is recommended as an effective, cheap and safe option with minimal side effects for higher risk patients. Paramedics should consider supplying, or obtaining a supply of oral steroids for high risk asthmatics following an acute exacerbation of asthma when the patient does not require, or refuses, further assessment or observation in an accident and emergency department.

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