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Alvesco (ciclesonide)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023

Alvesco® (ciclesonide) is approved for long-term treatment of asthma in people 12 years of age and older. It is an inhaled corticosteroid that reduces inflammation in the airway. This can prevent and control symptoms of asthma.

Do not use Alvesco to treat an asthma attack or if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Ask your doctor how to take Alvesco.

What are the ingredients in Alvesco?

The active ingredient in Alvesco is a chemical called ciclesonide. This is a type of corticosteroid (steroid) made in a lab. Steroids are natural chemicals in the body that reduce inflammation.1

How does Alvesco work?

Inflammation plays a key role in asthma. Inflammation causes the inner lining of your airways to swell and make mucus. Swollen airways can be more sensitive to certain asthma triggers that cause asthma attacks. Anti-inflammatory drugs are important for the treatment of asthma by stopping the swelling inside the airways. In general, steroids work by preventing and reducing inflammation in the airways.1

Ciclesonide is an inhaled steroid that works to prevent swelling in your airways. This can help prevent an asthma attack.

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What are the possible side effects?

Side effects of Alvesco include:2,3

  • Low bone density
  • Slow growth in children
  • Eye problems, such as glaucoma or cataracts
  • Increased wheezing and tightness in the chest(bronchospasm)
  • Headache
  • Swelling of nose and throat
  • Swelling of sinuses
  • Sore throat
  • Joint pain
  • Stuffy nose
  • Pain in arms, legs, and back

Inhaled steroids may cause thrush, a fungal infection in your mouth. Rinsing your mouth after inhaling Alvesco and regularly cleaning your inhaler can help prevent infections. Tell your doctor if you notice symptoms of thrush, such as:2,3

  • Discomfort or pain in your throat
  • Hoarse voice
  • Redness or white patches in your mouth

Alvesco and other corticosteroids may weaken the immune system. Inhaled steroids can increase your risk of respiratory tract infections. Avoid contact with people who have a contagious disease. Make sure you are up-to-date on all vaccinations. Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of an infection, such as:2,3

  • Fever
  • Aches and pains
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you take oral steroids and are switching to Alvesco, your doctor will monitor you for adrenal insufficiency. This happens when your adrenal glands do not make enough steroid hormones. This can be a life-threatening condition. Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, such as:2,3

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting that do not go away

These are not all the possible side effects of Alvesco. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with Alvesco.

Other things to know

Alvesco is taken by oral inhalation. Ask your doctor how to use, store, clean, and discard your inhaler. They will also tell you what dose is right for you. The inhaler must be “primed” before using it for the first time or if it has not been used for 10 days. To prime the inhaler, hold it upright away from your face and release 3 puffs.2,3

It may take 4 weeks or longer to experience the full benefits of Alvesco. Do not stop using Alvesco unless your doctor tells you to. Once your symptoms improve, your doctor will lower your dosage to reduce the risk of side effects. Alvesco should not be used to treat asthma attacks. It is not a rescue inhaler and will not work quickly enough.2,3

Before taking Alvesco, talk to your doctor about your full medical history, including:2,3

  • Eye problems, such as glaucoma and cataracts
  • History of infections, such as tuberculosis or ocular herpes simplex
  • Your vaccination history
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • If you are allergic to any ingredient in Alvesco

Alvesco may interfere with other drugs or worsen certain conditions. Before beginning treatment for asthma, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Alvesco.