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Minimal risk of bone loss with inhaled corticosteroids

Q: I was recently diagnosed with COPD. I am a 55-year-old woman. Should I be concerned about taking Advair because of its effect on bone mineral density?

A: Advair is an inhaled medication that combines salmeterol and fluticasone. It's prescribed to control asthma symptoms and help relieve coughing and shortness of breath in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Salmeterol is a "beta agonist." It helps open up airways. Tight airways are a problem in asthma and COPD. That's why beta agonists are one of the first-line treatments.

Fluticasone is a corticosteroid. It suppresses inflammation in the airways. That's important because airway...