40 mcg inhaled twice daily, approximately 12 hours apart, is the recommended starting dose. For patients who do not respond adequately to 40 mcg after 2 weeks of therapy, increasing the dosage to 80 mcg twice daily may provide additional asthma control. The maximum recommended dosage is 80 mcg twice daily. The starting dosage is based on the severity of asthma, including consideration of the patients’ current control of asthma symptoms and risk of future exacerbation. Improvement in asthma symptoms can occur within 24 hours of the beginning of treatment and should be expected within the first or second week, but maximum benefit should not be expected until 3 to 4 weeks of therapy. Improvement in pulmonary function is usually apparent within 1 to 4 weeks after the start of therapy. The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel defines low dose therapy as 80 to 160 mcg/day, medium dose as 161 to 320 mcg/day, and high dose therapy as more than 320 mcg/day for children ages 5 to 11 years. The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines define low dose therapy as 100 mcg/day in this age group. Titrate to the lowest effective dose once asthma stability is achieved.
Although patients receiving systemic corticosteroid therapy are more susceptible to secondary infection than patients not receiving corticosteroids, administration via the inhaled route minimizes this risk. Corticosteroid therapy can mask the symptoms of infection and should not be used in cases of bacterial, fungal, or viral infections that are not adequately controlled by anti-infective agents, except in life-threatening circumstances. Fluticasone; salmeterol should be avoided in patients with tuberculosis infections of the respiratory tract if possible. The incidence or course of acute bacterial or viral infection is probably minimally affected by inhaled corticosteroids in immunocompetent individuals; however, close monitoring of patients with immunosuppression is recommended if treatment with an inhaled corticosteroid is necessary.