Saturday, November 30, 2013

Qvar - Inhaled Corticosteroid

It took me a long time to decide to start my daughter on Qvar, which is an inhaled corticosteroid, used to treat airway inflammation.  It is taken on a daily basis.  I didn't like the idea of having to "step up" to a daily dose of inhaled corticosteroids.  However, I didn't like the idea of feeling like her asthma just wasn't under control, either.  When your child has both asthma and life-threatening food allergies, it's pretty important to have their asthma well controlled.  Though she wasn't experiencing allergic reactions, she was needing her rescue inhaler more than I would have liked.  We also found ourselves using albuterol quite often.  I knew that I had to do something to get things under control.  I had already put allergen-protection covers on her mattress and her pillows, we washed her sheets, and even her light-blocking curtains, regularly.  We have a room air purifier, we change our air filters regularly.  Even with all these changes, we were still needing to use her other medications.

Articles I read noted that some children who take inhaled corticosteroids were about 1/2" shorter than their peers, on average.  My husband is 6'2" and I am 5'3", so odds are, she won't be that short, since she favors my husband more.  Even if she was to "lose" a half inch off her height, my thinking is, "better short, than short of breath."  I also learned that even with a daily dose of inhaled corticosteroids, it didn't come close to the amount that was in a single course of oral steroids.  (Though I am not averse to using those when needed, either.)

I took my daughter to her allergist and we discussed options.  As you can read in a previous post, my daughter was initially prescribed a medication that contained lactose and, therefore, possible traces of milk protein.  After a process of elimination, we ended up with Qvar.  Though the label states that it is for ages 5 and up, I was told it would be safe for my daughter, who was 4 years old, at the time.

Here is some information from the Qvar website about how it works:
How QVAR® Controls Asthma Symptoms
The importance of treating inflammation
What is inflammation? A rash is an example of inflammation on your skin. If you have asthma, you have inflammation in the large and small airways of your lungs. This inflammation is chronic, meaning it’s always there—even when you don’t have asthma symptoms.1 When left untreated, airway inflammation can cause asthma symptoms like coughing and wheezing,1 and may also cause serious damage to the lungs.2,3 By treating inflamed airways, you can reduce your risk of having asthma symptoms.4QVAR® is an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) that can treat chronic inflammation caused by asthma.4 After you inhale QVAR®, it goes to your airways and reduces the inflammation in your lungs. QVAR® has been shown to improve lung function and asthma control, and to reduce asthma symptoms.4
Inflammation is not our friend!
At first, I was giving my daughter the wrong dosage (too little) and I didn't see much of a change in the first two weeks.  After we got her on the correct dosage, and learned the proper technique, using a spacer, things started to improve.

We're coming up on her 1-year anniversary of starting Qvar and I feel it has done wonders for her lungs.  I can't say she never coughed, again, or anything, but we've hardly ever used her rescue inhaler, this entire year, and I actually had her albuterol vials expire on us, unused!  She still coughs, at times, when she runs around too much, too fast, but she doesn't have so many issues with coughing at night, which used to be a big problem, for her.  

Overall, I am very happy with the results and I haven't seen any adverse effects.  Asthma management is definitely something to be discussed with your healthcare providers, but I just wanted to share our experiences.  I know we all want our children to breathe easy, so that we can, too!

You can visit the official Qvar site for more information.  If you're looking for a great book, check out my post on Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide.  Here's another article that you might find helpful, if you're feeling a bit hesitant to start a daily regimen of inhaled corticosteroids.  (This is not a sponsored post.)


  1. Dear A&A--Another excellent post. A couple of thoughts about Qvar. A chemist explained in a talk a couple of years ago that it contains very small particles and thus is better at penetrating into the tiny nooks and crannies of a child's lungs than larger particles in other inhaled steroids. Anyone who has used an inhaler wrongly, and I am one of them, knows that the stuff can get caught in your mouth and other useless junctures if you do it wrong. The small Qvar particles will just reach more inflamed tissues than the grownup versions. Second, this is the only steroid I have heard my cousin and co-author Dr. Paul Ehrlich recommend in lectures to pediatricians. The differences must be very obvious to a pediatric allergist--another reason to find one if you can.

    1. Thank you so very much for your comment! Yes, proper inhaler/spacer technique really helped improve the medication's effectiveness. I always appreciate and respect your opinions, as well as those of Dr. Paul Ehrlich, so I feel even more positively about my daughter's progress on Qvar.

  2. hi I know that this is an old post but my 4 year old started this few months ago I was so scared to give it to him twice a day but reading your post makes me feel much better I am so worried about giving him all of this med he's also on Zyrtec(cetirizine)daily because he has chronic rhinitis.

  3. Yes, I totally understand not wanting to give your child so many medications, but asthma control is really important. I hope it works well for your son!