At first glance, oral corticosteroids (OCS) can seem like great solutions to treat uncontrolled or severe asthma – and in some cases may be – but let’s take a closer look at asthma treatment and OCS. OCS treatment is not without risks and may signal a need to consider other treatment options. Let’s investigate!

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OCS (like prednisone) can be an important tool for treating asthma flares, but can also lead to unintended health risks.1 In fact, repeated OCS use may actually be a clue that asthma is not under control and the treatment plan is failing.

About OCS Overexposed: Thinking Beyond the Burst

OCS Overexposed: Thinking Beyond the Burst is a national education campaign to raise awareness of appropriate OCS use and reveal OCS overuse for what it often is – a treatment plan failure.

It’s important to recognize that while OCS can be critical to treat asthma flares, by reducing the risk of emergency room visits or hospitalizations, OCS have also been linked to serious health risks.1,2 Today, repeated use of OCS by someone living with uncontrolled or severe asthma is often a sign that their treatment plan isn’t working anymore.

About asthma

Asthma is a disease, typically with inflammation, of the airways and causes coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.3 Severe or difficult-to-control asthma can be debilitating to patients, negatively impacting their lives at home and at school or work.3 Sudden severe symptoms can even be deadly.3 There is no cure for asthma, but a range of conventional and advanced medications can help control symptoms.3 Even if symptoms do not lead to an OCS burst, people enduring frequent symptoms because of poor asthma control should expect better from their treatment plan.

People with severe asthma live with symptoms that appear frequently, including asthma flares, that get worse over time (even if medicine is taken as prescribed).4 If you think you or your loved one may have severe asthma, review these warning signs with a doctor.

  • Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects more than 25 million Americans.5
  • Five to ten percent of these people, roughly 1.3 to 2.6 million, are believed to have severe asthma.6
  • There are 1.7 million emergency room visits because of asthma each year.7

*OCS should not be confused with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Speak to your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan.1

  1. Mayo Clinic. Prednisone and other corticosteroids. Retrieved from
  2. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Oral Corticosteroids for Asthma. Retrieved from
  3. Mayo Clinic. Asthma Symptoms & causes. Retrieved from
  4. Asthma UK. What is severe asthma? Retrieved from
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). National Centers for Health Statistics / Asthma. Retrieved from
  6. Chung KF, Wenzel SE, Brozek JL, et al. International ERS/ATS guidelines on definition, evaluation and treatment of severe asthma. Eur Respir J. 2014;43(2):343-373.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most Recent National Asthma Data. Retrieved from

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