The Risks, Benefits, and Uncertainties of Stepping Down Asthma Medications

Matthew A. Rank, Stephen P. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Stepwise adjustments have been suggested as a framework to manage chronic asthma over time. In this framework, individuals with good asthma control and a low risk for future asthma exacerbations may be considered for a reduction or "step down" of their chronic asthma medications. In this article, we discuss how patients may benefit or be harmed by stepping down asthma medications. Based on the literature presented in this article, we recommend that clinicians discuss the option of stepping down with patients when symptoms are stable, lung function is near normal, and biomarkers (if measured) are near normal. Other factors that should be considered in the decision to step down include the length of asthma stability, age of the patient, time of year, and patient preferences. Reducing the dose of inhaled corticosteroid by 25% to 50% appears to be the safest method of stepping down. A clear plan of care and follow-up is needed when stepping down asthma medications because many patients are likely to have recurrent exacerbations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-509
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


  • Anti-asthmatic agents
  • Asthma
  • Cessation
  • Decrease
  • Discontinue
  • Step down
  • Wean
  • Withdraw

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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