Alvesco is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s FDA-approved to help prevent symptoms of asthma in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. (This is known as “maintenance treatment.”)

Asthma is a condition that affects your breathing. Symptoms of asthma may include coughing, trouble breathing, and wheezing.

You should not use Alvesco to treat asthma attacks or sudden trouble breathing. The drug is not a rescue inhaler. Alvesco eases swelling in airways over time, which may lead to fewer and less severe asthma attacks. However, the drug won’t work to stop an asthma attack that’s already occurring. (For more information, see the “Alvesco uses” section below.)

Drug details

Alvesco is a type of corticosteroid medication. The active drug in Alvesco is called ciclesonide.

Alvesco comes as an aerosol inhaler, which releases a fine spray of medication into your lungs when you take a dose.

Alvesco is available in two strengths: 80 micrograms (mcg) and 160 mcg per dose. How often you use Alvesco depends on what other medications you’re taking or have taken to treat your asthma. To learn more, see the “Alvesco dosage” section below.

Effectiveness

For information about the effectiveness of Alvesco, see the “Alvesco uses” section below.

Alvesco is available only as a brand-name medication. It’s not currently available in generic form.

A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs.

The active drug in Alvesco is called ciclesonide.

Alvesco can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Alvesco. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

For more information about the possible side effects of Alvesco, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Alvesco, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects of Alvesco can include*:

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* This is a partial list of mild side effects from Alvesco. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or refer to Alvesco’s Patient Information.
† For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect details” below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Alvesco aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect details” below.

Side effects in children

It’s possible that children* taking inhaled corticosteroids such as Alvesco may not grow as much as they should. However, clinical trials haven’t shown a difference in other side effects that occur in children and those that occur in adults. (To learn more, see “Alvesco side effects” above.)

* Alvesco is approved for use in children ages 12 years and older.

Stunted growth in children

In clinical studies, children taking inhaled corticosteroids such as Alvesco grew about 0.39 inches (1 centimeter) less than children not taking the drugs. Children taking higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids over longer periods had the largest change in growth.

It’s not known how much Alvesco can affect a child’s growth. It’s also not known if children may experience “catch up” growth after stopping Alvesco treatment. (This height increase would make up for the growth that didn’t occur while using the drug.)

Your child’s doctor will monitor their height throughout treatment with Alvesco. If the doctor believes that the drug is affecting your child’s height, they may recommend a different type of asthma medication.

Your child’s doctor will also typically prescribe the lowest possible dose of Alvesco that’s effective in treating your child’s asthma. This should help decrease any side effects your child has.

Side effect details

You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drug or whether certain side effects pertain to it. Here’s some detail on certain side effects this drug may or may not cause in adults.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Alvesco.

Allergic reactions involving swelling of the mouth, lips, or tongue have been reported in people taking Alvesco. However, it’s not known how many people taking the drug may have experienced this side effect. Alvesco wasn’t compared with other medications to study allergic reactions. So it’s not known how many people taking other medications may have also experienced an allergic reaction.

In general, symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth and redness in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Alvesco, as the reaction could become severe. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Oral thrush

During Alvesco treatment, oral thrush may occur in adults and children. This is a type of fungal infection in the mouth caused by a fungus called Candida albicans.

In clinical trials, more than 3% of people taking Alvesco developed oral thrush in their mouth. Alvesco was compared with a placebo, but it’s not known how many people taking a placebo may have also developed oral thrush. (A placebo is a treatment with no active drug in it.)

Symptoms of oral thrush

Symptoms of oral thrush may include:

  • white spots in your mouth
  • decreased ability to taste
  • pain or burning in your mouth

If you develop symptoms of oral thrush while taking Alvesco, talk with your doctor. They can recommend a medication for it. In most cases, you’ll be able to keep using Alvesco while you’re having treatment for oral thrush. But sometimes, your doctor may have you stop your treatment with Alvesco until the oral thrush has gone away.

It’s possible to help prevent oral thrush. After using your Alvesco inhaler, gargle and rinse out your mouth with water, then spit the water out. This helps decrease your risk of developing oral thrush.

If you have questions about preventing oral thrush, talk with your doctor.

Eye conditions

Certain eye conditions may occur with Alvesco. These include:

  • increased eye pressure
  • glaucoma (a type of eye disease that’s the result of increased eye pressure)
  • cataracts (cloudiness or blurring of the lens of your eye)

In clinical trials, eye conditions were reported in people using either Alvesco or other inhaled corticosteroids. (Alvesco is a type of corticosteroid.)

The trials showed that minor changes in eye pressure or vision occurred in:

  • 36.1% of people using Alvesco
  • 38.4% of people using another inhaled corticosteroid

The trials also showed that more serious changes in eye pressure or vision occurred in:

  • 8.1% of people using Alvesco
  • 9.2% of people using another inhaled corticosteroid

The most serious changes in eye pressure or vision occurred in:

  • 0.9% of people using Alvesco
  • 0.5% of people using another inhaled corticosteroid

If you have a history of these eye disorders or notice any changes in vision while you’re using Alvesco, be sure to tell your doctor. They will probably recommend a vision test. If you do develop changes in your vision, your doctor may monitor your eyes more often than usual. Or they may switch you to a different medication to treat your asthma.

Anxiety (not a side effect)

Anxiety isn’t a side effect reported by people taking Alvesco.

However, another type of drug that may be used to treat asthma, called a bronchodilator,* may cause anxiety and nervousness. Bronchodilators open up your airways to allow more air into your lungs. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you use a bronchodilator* along with Alvesco.

Examples of bronchodilators include:

If you’re experiencing anxiety, talk with your doctor. They may be able to help determine what’s causing the anxiety and the best way to treat it.

* Certain bronchodilators come in the form of rescue inhalers. To learn more about using Alvesco with a rescue inhaler, see the “Alvesco use with other drugs” section below.

Weight gain (not a side effect)

Weight gain wasn’t a side effect that was reported in clinical trials of people taking Alvesco.*

However, corticosteroid medications that are taken orally (by mouth) may cause weight gain. In some cases, you may take these drugs with Alvesco. They’re also known as “oral steroids.”

Examples of oral steroids include:

If you notice an unexpected weight gain while using Alvesco, talk with your doctor. They may be able to help determine the cause, as it typically won’t be Alvesco. Your doctor may also be able to recommend ways for you to manage your weight.

* Alvesco is an inhaled corticosteroid.

You may wonder how Alvesco compares with other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler are alike and different.

Ingredients

The active drug ingredient in Alvesco is ciclesonide. The active drug ingredient in Qvar Redihaler is beclomethasone. Both Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler are inhaled corticosteroids.

Uses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler to help prevent symptoms of asthma. This is known as “maintenance treatment.”

Alvesco is approved for use in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older.

Qvar Redihaler is approved for use in adults as well as children 4 years and older.

You should not use Alvesco or Qvar Redihaler to treat asthma attacks or sudden trouble breathing. These drugs are not rescue inhalers. Alvesco and Qvar decrease swelling in airways over time, which may lead to fewer and less severe asthma attacks. However, the drugs won’t work to stop an asthma attack that’s already occurring.

Drug forms and administration

Both Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler come as aerosol inhalers. This type of inhaler releases a fine spray of medication into your lungs when you take a dose.

Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler are both taken twice daily.

Side effects and risks

Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler are both inhaled corticosteroids. Therefore, these medications can cause very similar side effects, but some different ones as well. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

These lists contain up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with either Alvesco or Qvar Redihaler, as well as mild side effects that both drugs may share.

Serious side effects

This list contains examples of serious side effects that can occur with either Alvesco or Qvar Redihaler:

Effectiveness

The only condition both Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler are used for is asthma.

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies. But studies have found both Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler to be effective for helping prevent asthma symptoms.

Costs

According to estimates on GoodRx.com, Alvesco costs significantly less than Qvar Redihaler. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Alvesco and Qvar Redihaler are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Alvesco, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Alternatives for asthma

There are many different types of medications that may be used to treat your asthma. In some cases, a combination of drugs may be used.

Below are examples of other inhaled medications that your doctor may recommend to treat your asthma:

There are also some oral medications, which are taken by mouth, to treat asthma. They include:

Like Qvar Redihaler (above), the drug Advair has similar uses to Alvesco. Here’s a comparison of how Alvesco and Advair HFA are alike and different.

Ingredients

The active drug ingredient in Alvesco is ciclesonide, which is an inhaled corticosteroid.

Advair HFA contains two active drug ingredients: fluticasone and salmeterol. Fluticasone is a type of drug called an inhaled corticosteroid. Salmeterol is a kind of drug known as a long-acting beta-agonist.

Uses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Alvesco and Advair HFA to help prevent symptoms of asthma in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. This is known as “maintenance treatment.”

You should not use Alvesco or Advair HFA to treat asthma attacks or sudden trouble breathing. These drugs are not rescue inhalers. Alvesco and Advair HFA decrease swelling in airways over time, which may lead to fewer and less severe asthma attacks. However, the drugs won’t work to stop an asthma attack that’s already occurring.

Note: Advair comes in another form called Advair Diskus. This form of the drug is approved to help prevent asthma symptoms in adults as well as children ages 4 years and older. Advair Diskus is also approved to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in adults.

Drug forms and administration

Both Alvesco and Advair HFA come as aerosol inhalers. This type of inhaler releases a fine spray of medication into your lungs when you take a dose.

Alvesco and Advair HFA are both taken twice daily.

Note: Advair Diskus comes as a dry powder inhaler.

Side effects and risks

Alvesco and Advair HFA both contain inhaled corticosteroids. Therefore, these medications can cause very similar side effects. However, Advair HFA also contains another type of drug called a bronchodilator, which is used to treat asthma. Therefore, Advair HFA can cause some different side effects as well. Below are examples of the side effects of each drug.

Mild side effects

These lists contain up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with either Alvesco or Advair HFA, as well as mild side effects that both drugs may share.

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with either Alvesco or Advair HFA, as well as serious side effects that both drugs may share.

Effectiveness

The only condition both Alvesco and Advair HFA are used for is asthma.

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies. But studies have found both Alvesco and Advair HFA to be effective for helping prevent asthma symptoms.

Costs

According to estimates on GoodRx.com, Alvesco costs significantly less than Advair HFA. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Alvesco and Advair HFA are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

Note: There is a generic form of Advair Diskus called Wixela Inhub.

The Alvesco dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

  • the severity of your asthma
  • other medications you’re taking or have taken to treat your asthma

Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage. Then they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms and strengths

Alvesco comes as an aerosol inhaler, which releases a fine spray of medication into your lungs when you take a dose.

Alvesco is available in two strengths: 80 micrograms (mcg) and 160 mcg per dose. Each inhaler contains 60 inhalations (puffs).

The 80-mcg inhaler releases 80 mcg of Alvesco into your lungs. But pushing down on the inhaler valve releases 100 mcg of the drug. Pushing down on the inhaler valve of the 160-mcg inhaler releases 200 mcg of Alvesco.

This is because the actual amount of medication that reaches your lungs depends on other factors, such as how you breathe in after taking your dose. So even though the inhaler releases more of the drug, you’re getting either 80 mcg or 160 mcg per dose.

Dosage for asthma

The inhaler dosage of Alvesco will depend on what medications you’ve used in the past for your asthma.

It’s very important that you use Alvesco only as directed by your doctor. The drug works by helping prevent asthma symptoms from occurring in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. Alvesco won’t treat an asthma attack that is already happening or sudden trouble breathing.*

* To treat asthma attacks while using Alvesco, your doctor will probably recommend a rescue inhaler. To learn more, see the “Alvesco use with other drugs” section below.

Dosage for asthma if you’ve used only bronchodilators

If you’ve taken only bronchodilators for your asthma in the past, the typical starting dosage is 80 mcg of Alvesco twice daily. This is one inhalation (puff) of the 80-microgram (mcg) inhaler twice per day.

The maximum recommended dosage is 160 mcg twice daily. This is one puff of the 160-mcg inhaler twice per day.

Examples of bronchodilators include:

Dosage for asthma if you’ve used inhaled corticosteroids

If you’ve used an inhaled corticosteroid other than Alvesco for your asthma, the typical starting dosage is 80 mcg of Alvesco twice daily. This is one puff of the 80-mcg inhaler twice per day.

The maximum recommended dosage is 320 mcg of Alvesco twice daily. This is two puffs of the 160-mcg inhaler twice per day.

Examples of inhaled corticosteroids include:

  • fluticasone propionate (Flovent, Xhance)
  • fluticasone furoate (Arnuity Ellipta)
  • beclomethasone (Qvar)
  • mometasone (Asmanex)
  • budesonide (Pulmicort, Rhinocort)

Dosage for asthma if you’ve used oral steroids

If you’ve been taking oral steroids for your asthma, the typical starting dosage of Alvesco is 320 mcg twice daily. This is two puffs of the 160-mcg inhaler twice per day. It’s also the maximum recommended dosage of Alvesco, so it’s not likely that your dosage will increase.

After using Alvesco for about 1 week, your doctor may slowly start to decrease your dosage of oral steroids. They’ll monitor you during this time for any symptoms of asthma attacks or side effects from stopping oral steroid treatment.

Examples of oral steroids include:

Children’s dosage

Alvesco is approved to be used in children ages 12 years and older with asthma. The dosages for children (pediatric dosages) are the same as for adults. For more information, see “Dosage for asthma” above.

Dosage questions

Below are answers to some questions you may have about taking Alvesco.

What if I miss a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of Alvesco, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on how long it has been since your missed dose, they may recommend either:

  • taking your dose of Alvesco as soon as you remember
  • skipping your missed dose of Alvesco and taking your next dose at the scheduled time

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm on your phone or downloading a reminder app. A kitchen timer can work, too.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Alvesco is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Alvesco is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.

As with all medications, the cost of Alvesco can vary. To find current prices for Alvesco in your area, check out GoodRx.com.


The cost you find on GoodRx.com is what you may pay without insurance. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Keep in mind that you may be able to get a 90-day supply of Alvesco. If approved by your insurance company, getting a 90-day supply of the drug could reduce your number of trips to the pharmacy and help lower the cost. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor or your insurance company.

Before approving coverage for Alvesco, your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide if the drug will be covered.

If you’re not sure whether you’ll need to get prior authorization for Alvesco, contact your insurance company.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Alvesco, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

Covis Pharma, the packager of Alvesco, offers the Alvesco $5 Co-Pay Program and the Walgreens $0 Co-Pay Program. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for support, call 877-264-2440 or visit the drug website.

Mail-order pharmacies

Alvesco may be available through a mail-order pharmacy. Using this service may help lower the drug’s cost and allow you to get your medication without leaving home.

If recommended by your doctor, you may be able to receive a 90-day supply of Alvesco, so there’s less concern about running out of the medication. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor and your insurance company. Some Medicare plans may help cover the cost of mail-order medications.

If you don’t have insurance, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist about online pharmacy options.

Generic version

Alvesco isn’t available in a generic form. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Alvesco to treat certain conditions. Alvesco may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label drug use is when an FDA-approved drug is used for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

Alvesco for asthma

Alvesco is FDA-approved to help prevent symptoms of asthma in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. This is known as “maintenance treatment.”

You should not use Alvesco to treat acute bronchospasm. “Bronchospasm” is wheezing or trouble breathing that gets worse. “Acute bronchospasm” refers to asthma attacks or sudden trouble breathing. Alvesco decreases swelling in airways over time, which may lead to fewer and less severe asthma attacks. However, the drug won’t work to stop an asthma attack that’s already occurring.

Your doctor may recommend a rescue inhaler, such as albuterol (ProAir, Ventolin HFA, Proventil) or levalbuterol (Xopenex), to treat sudden asthma attacks. To learn more, see the “Alvesco use with other drugs” section below.

If your doctor prescribes a rescue inhaler with Alvesco, be sure to ask them when to use each one.

Asthma explained

Asthma is a respiratory disease that affects your breathing. Asthma may cause your airways to swell, which can make it hard to breathe. Symptoms of asthma may include coughing, trouble breathing, and wheezing.

Effectiveness for asthma

In clinical trials, Alvesco was an effective drug to decrease symptoms of asthma. The drug was studied in people with asthma who:

* Alvesco is a type of inhaled corticosteroid.

Effectiveness in people who have used bronchodilators

Clinical trials looked at people who had used only bronchodilators for their asthma in the past. Those taking Alvesco reported an increase in their lung function.

In the trials, people were given either Alvesco or a placebo (a treatment with no active drug in it). Researchers measured their forced expiratory volume over the course of 1 second (FEV1). This is a measure of lung function that shows how much air you can force out of your lungs in 1 second. The higher your FEV1 is, the healthier your lungs are.

FEV1 was measured in the morning before the first dose was given. Some people took 80 micrograms (mcg) of Alvesco twice daily. This group had an increase in FEV1 that was 10.4% more than the placebo group. Also, more people who used a placebo had worsening of their asthma than people who used Alvesco.

Effectiveness in people who have used other inhaled corticosteroids

Clinical trials looked at people who had previously used an inhaled corticosteroid other than Alvesco. After taking Alvesco in the study, this group of people reported an increase in their lung function.

In the trials, people were given Alvesco or a placebo. Researchers measured their FEV1. (For details, see “Effectiveness in people who have used bronchodilators” right above.)

FEV1 was measured in the morning before the first dose was given. Some people with mild asthma took 80 mcg of Alvesco twice daily. This group had an increase in FEV1 that was 7.5% more than the placebo group.

Other people with moderate to severe asthma took 160 mcg to 320 mcg of Alvesco twice daily. This group had an increase in FEV1 that was between 8.6% and 11.8% more than the placebo group. Also, more people who used a placebo had worsening of their asthma than people who took Alvesco.

Compared to when people had used a different inhaled corticosteroid before the study:

  • people who used Alvesco for mild, moderate, or severe asthma didn’t need to use their rescue inhaler more often than a placebo
  • people who used a placebo did need to use their rescue inhaler more often

Effectiveness in people who are taking oral steroids

Clinical trials looked at people with severe asthma who were using oral steroids, which are taken by mouth. One of these medications was oral prednisone. People who took Alvesco reported a decrease in the amount of oral steroids they needed.

In the trials, people took 320 mcg or 640 mcg* of Alvesco or a placebo twice daily. The results showed that the amount of oral prednisone needed to control asthma symptoms:

  • decreased by 47% in people who took 320 mcg of Alvesco
  • decreased by 62% in people who took 640 mcg* of Alvesco
  • increased by 4% in people who took a placebo

The results also showed that people who used Alvesco rather than a placebo were able to reduce the amount of prednisone they needed by at least half. (This means that if someone took 20 mg of prednisone each day, once they started using Alvesco, the prednisone dose was able to be reduced to 10 mg or less each day.)

In the clinical trials, prednisone doses were decreased by at least 50% in:

  • 64% of people who took Alvesco 320 mcg twice daily
  • 77% of people who took Alvesco 640 mcg* twice daily
  • 33% of people who took a placebo twice daily

* The maximum recommended dose of Alvesco is 320 mcg twice daily. Although the trials included a 640-mcg dose, this is not an FDA-approved dose.

Off-label uses for Alvesco

In addition to the use listed above, Alvesco may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label drug use is when an FDA-approved drug is used for a purpose other than what it’s approved for. Below is an example of an off-label use for Alvesco.

Alvesco for COPD

Alvesco isn’t currently approved to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the drug may be used off-label for a certain kind of COPD called COPD with airway eosinophilia.

COPD is a group of lung conditions that includes both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. With emphysema, lung damage makes it harder for your body to absorb oxygen. Chronic bronchitis involves a long-lasting cough with mucus.

One clinical trial showed that people who had COPD with airway eosinophilia might benefit from using Alvesco. This kind of COPD causes swelling in the airways.

Another study looked at whether adding Alvesco to two other COPD medications (formoterol and tiotropium) helps lungs work better. However, the results showed that people taking all three drugs had about the same lung function as people taking only formoterol and tiotropium.

If you have COPD with airway eosinophilia and are interested in using Alvesco, talk with your doctor. You can also ask them about treatment options for other forms of COPD.

Alvesco and children

Alvesco is approved for use in children ages 12 years and older. Clinical trials involved both adults as well as children in this age range. Therefore, to learn about the effectiveness of Alvesco in children, see “Alvesco for asthma” above.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you take Alvesco with other asthma medications, such as a rescue inhaler or oral steroids.

Alvesco is a maintenance inhaler, which you should use each day. It works over time to ease your asthma symptoms.

However, if you have symptoms of an asthma attack while you’re using Alvesco, you may need to use a rescue inhaler. (Alvesco shouldn’t be used to treat an acute [sudden] asthma attack or sudden trouble breathing.) Rescue inhalers can include albuterol (ProAir, Ventolin HFA, Proventil) and levalbuterol (Xopenex).

If you have severe asthma, you may also need to take oral steroids. These are steroids you take by mouth, and they can include prednisone (Rayos), methylprednisolone (Medrol), and dexamethasone (Decadron). While using Alvesco, you may be able to decrease the amount of oral steroids you take.

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your asthma. They should be able to recommend which medications, if any, you should take along with Alvesco.

You should take Alvesco according to your doctor’s or healthcare provider’s instructions.

Alvesco comes as an aerosol inhaler, which releases a fine spray of medication into your lungs when you take a dose.

Before using your Alvesco inhaler for the first time, be sure to prime it. You may also need to prime it if you haven’t used your inhaler for more than 10 days. For instructions on how to prime Alvesco, see the manufacturer’s website. You’ll also find detailed directions on how to use the drug.

After using your Alvesco inhaler, gargle and rinse out your mouth with water, then spit the water out. This helps prevent oral thrush, a type of fungal infection in your mouth. (To learn more, see “Oral thrush” in the “Alvesco side effects” section above.

When to take

You’ll likely take Alvesco twice daily. Ideally, you should take your doses at about the same times each day.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm on your phone or downloading a reminder app. A kitchen timer can work, too.

There are no known interactions between Alvesco and alcohol.

However, it’s possible that alcohol use may be a trigger for asthma. This means that drinking alcohol may make your asthma worse. If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor what amount is safe for you.

Alvesco can interact with other medications. It’s not known to interact with herbs, supplements, or foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase the number of side effects or make them more severe.

Alvesco and other medications

Below is a medication that can interact with Alvesco. This section doesn’t contain all drugs that may interact with Alvesco.

Before taking Alvesco, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also, tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Alvesco and ketoconazole

Alvesco may interact with a drug called ketoconazole, which treats certain types of infections.

Taking Alvesco along with ketoconazole may cause the level of Alvesco’s metabolites to increase. (Metabolites are the waste products left after the body has broken down Alvesco.) This could raise the number of side effects* of Alvesco or make them more severe. However, studies show that this isn’t very likely to occur.

If you’re taking ketoconazole, talk with your doctor before using Alvesco. They typically won’t change your Alvesco dosage, but if necessary, they may decrease it.

* For information on Alvesco’s side effects, see the “Alvesco side effects” section above.

Alvesco and herbs and supplements

There aren’t any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Alvesco. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products while taking Alvesco.

Alvesco and foods

There aren’t any foods that have been specifically reported to interact with Alvesco. If you have any questions about eating certain foods with Alvesco, talk with your doctor.

Asthma is a respiratory disease that affects your breathing. Asthma may cause your airways to swell, which can make it hard to breathe.

People with asthma may notice certain triggers that make their asthma symptoms worse. These can include smoke, pollen, and pets.

Asthma is usually managed with two different types of medications: a maintenance medication and a treatment for asthma attacks. Maintenance medications work over time to ease asthma symptoms and reduce the risk of having an asthma attack. Alvesco is a maintenance medication. You shouldn’t use it to treat a sudden asthma attack or sudden breathing problems.

Alvesco is a type of medication called an inhaled corticosteroid, which works by decreasing swelling in your airways. This makes it easier to breathe and helps relieve symptoms of asthma. How a drug works is also called its mechanism of action.

How long does it take to work?

It can take at least 4 weeks after you start taking Alvesco for asthma symptoms to ease.

If you feel like Alvesco isn’t helping you at first, it’s important to talk with your doctor rather than stopping treatment on your own. It may take time for the drug to begin working.

It’s not known if Alvesco is safe to use during pregnancy. There haven’t been any studies to see if Alvesco is safe for use while pregnant.

In studies of pregnant animals, those given Alvesco by mouth* didn’t have any increased risk of birth defects in their offspring. However, pregnant animals given an injectable form* of Alvesco did experience miscarriage. Their offspring had cleft palate and problems with bone formation. But studies in animals don’t always indicate what will happen in humans.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before using Alvesco. They can advise you on the pros and cons of the medication.

* Alvesco is approved to be inhaled into the lungs. The drug isn’t approved to be taken by mouth or used in an injectable form.

It’s not known if Alvesco is safe to take during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re using Alvesco.

For more information about taking Alvesco during pregnancy, see the “Alvesco and pregnancy” section above.

It’s not known if Alvesco is safe to use while you’re breastfeeding.

Alvesco is a type of medication called an inhaled corticosteroid. In clinical trials of other corticosteroids, the corticosteroids were present in breast milk. However, it’s not known if Alvesco is also present in breast milk.

In animal studies, small amounts of Alvesco were present in the breast milk of lactating animals. However, animal studies don’t always indicate what will happen in humans.

If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, be sure to talk with your doctor before you start taking Alvesco. They can advise you on the pros and cons of the medication.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Alvesco.

Can I stop taking Alvesco if it doesn’t work well for me?

You shouldn’t stop taking Alvesco without first talking with your doctor. If you suddenly stop using your Alvesco inhaler, your asthma symptoms could come back. This means that you may have coughing, trouble breathing, and wheezing that Alvesco was controlling while you were using the medication.

Alvesco may take 4 weeks or longer before it begins working to ease your asthma symptoms. If you’re thinking of stopping your Alvesco treatment before this time, your doctor may recommend waiting a little longer. The medication could still start working for you.

If Alvesco isn’t working for you after 4 weeks, your doctor may increase your dosage or switch you to a different asthma medication.

Will I need any monitoring while I’m taking Alvesco?

Your doctor may monitor you while you’re taking Alvesco to make sure the medication is working for you. They may measure your lung function by having you breathe into a spirometer. This device helps the doctor determine how much air you can breathe in and out and how well your lungs expand.

Your doctor may also monitor you for side effects* of Alvesco. For example, the drug may increase your risk of developing certain eye conditions. These include glaucoma, which is due to increased eye pressure, and cataracts (cloudiness or blurring of the lens of your eye). Therefore, your doctor may give you eye exams to check for any changes in your vision.

Alvesco may also decrease bone mineral density. This may make it easier for you to break your bones. Your doctor may monitor you by measuring your bone strength with a bone density test. The test is usually a scan of your bones.

If your child is using Alvesco, their doctor may also monitor their growth. It’s possible that Alvesco may reduce a child’s growth. Therefore, the doctor may monitor your child’s growth patterns to see whether they’re growing at the proper rate for their age group.

Before starting Alvesco treatment, talk with your doctor. They’ll go over any monitoring that you’ll need while you’re taking Alvesco.

* For more about the side effects of Alvesco, see the “Alvesco side effects” section above.

Can I use Alvesco if I’m taking oral steroids?

Possibly. If you have severe asthma and are using oral steroids, such as prednisone (Rayos), your doctor may prescribe Alvesco. (You take oral steroids by mouth.) Alvesco is an inhaled corticosteroid.* Both of these types of medications work in similar ways to ease your asthma symptoms.

Using an inhaled steroid, such as Alvesco, may allow you to take much less of an oral steroid for your asthma. For details, see “Effectiveness in people who have taken oral steroids” in the “Alvesco uses” section above.

Inhaled steroids typically have fewer side effects than oral steroids. This is because inhaled steroids work specifically in your lungs and airways to relieve asthma symptoms. In comparison, oral steroids work throughout your entire body, so they may cause more side effects than inhaled steroids.

To help decrease the risk of side effects, your doctor may recommend reducing your dose of oral steroids while you’re taking an inhaled steroid. Side effects linked to long-term use of oral steroids include weight gain, insomnia, and high blood pressure.

Talk with your doctor about the best treatments to help manage your asthma symptoms.

* An inhaled corticosteroid may also be referred to as an “inhaled steroid.”

Before using Alvesco, why do I have to tell my doctor if I haven’t had the measles or chickenpox vaccine?

Taking Alvesco if you haven’t had measles or chickenpox or been vaccinated for them could increase your risk for these infections.

Alvesco may weaken your immune system (your body’s defense against infection). So if you’re exposed to infections, such as measles or chickenpox, your body may not be able to fight them as it should.

Before starting Alvesco treatment, your doctor will ask you if you’ve had measles or chickenpox or had the vaccines for them. If you haven’t, your doctor may recommend that you receive the vaccines before you start taking Alvesco. (To learn more, see “chickenpox or measles” in “Alvesco precautions” below.)

If you have questions about what vaccines you may need before using Alvesco, talk with your doctor.

Why can’t I use Alvesco to treat asthma attacks?

Alvesco won’t work to treat a sudden asthma attack because it doesn’t work quickly enough. Rather, Alvesco works slowly over time to ease asthma symptoms and help prevent asthma attacks. It may take up to 4 weeks or longer before you notice that Alvesco is working for you.

For sudden asthma attacks, your doctor will likely prescribe a rescue inhaler, such as albuterol (ProAir, Ventolin HFA, Proventil) or levalbuterol (Xopenex). In some cases, your doctor may recommend a rescue inhaler along with Alvesco.

If you have any questions about which inhaler to use, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Will Alvesco cure my asthma?

No, Alvesco won’t cure your asthma. Instead, the drug works to ease asthma symptoms, such as coughing, trouble breathing, and wheezing. This is known as “maintenance treatment.”

At this time, there isn’t a cure for asthma. However, you may be able to manage asthma with a combination of maintenance medications, such as Alvesco and rescue inhalers. In some cases, your doctor may recommend additional treatments for your asthma. (To learn more, see the “Alvesco use with other drugs” section above.)

If you have asthma, talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan to help control your asthma symptoms.

This drug comes with several precautions. Before taking Alvesco, talk with your doctor about your health history. Alvesco may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Eye problems, such as glaucoma or cataracts. Alvesco may cause you to develop eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, or increased eye pressure. So if you have a history of eye conditions, taking Alvesco may make them worse. Before you start taking Alvesco, talk with your doctor about any eye conditions that you have.
  • Certain infections. After you’ve received treatment for certain infections, such as herpes or tuberculosis, they can stay inactive in your body. The use of Alvesco may make the infections active again. If you’ve had (or currently have) any infections, talk with your doctor before starting Alvesco treatment. They can monitor you for symptoms of the infections returning or treat the current infection.
  • Chickenpox or measles. Alvesco may weaken your immune system. This can make it easier for you to get serious infections, such as chickenpox or measles. If you haven’t had these infections or received vaccines for them, your doctor may recommend you get the vaccines before you start taking Alvesco. They may also monitor you more often than usual for signs of infection during your treatment.
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Alvesco or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take Alvesco. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
  • Pregnancy. It’s not known if Alvesco is safe to use during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before you start taking the drug. For more information, see the “Alvesco and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. It’s not known if Alvesco is safe to use while you’re breastfeeding. If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk with your doctor before starting Alvesco treatment. For more information, see the “Alvesco and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Alvesco, see the “Alvesco side effects” section above.

Do not use more Alvesco than your doctor recommends. For some drugs, doing so may lead to unwanted side effects or overdose.

What to do in case you take too much Alvesco

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. But if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

When you get Alvesco from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the package. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.

The expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk with your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

You should store Alvesco inhalers at room temperature. Ideally, you should keep the medication at 77°F (25°C). However, the drug is approved to be stored for a short time between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C). Be sure to keep your inhalers away from an open flame and heat.

If you store your inhalers at temperatures higher than 120°F (49°C), they may burst.

Disposal

If you no longer need to take Alvesco and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

Because Alvesco inhalers may burst at temperatures higher than 120°F (49°C), you shouldn’t dispose of them in a fire or incinerator.

This article provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information about how to dispose of your medication.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.