Although steroids can be invaluable, even lifesaving, medications often vital to treating asthma, autoimmune conditions, and chronic pulmonary disease and preventing transplant rejection, their misuse can result in a treatment that is worse than the disease. The editorial writer, Dr.
Edward D. Sure, Dr. McCoul told me, you feel better, at least temporarily — steroids, after all, counter inflammation and have a euphoric, energizing effect. But at what price? The answer to that question is addressed in another commentary published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Beth I. Wallace at Michigan Medicine and Dr. Akbar K. Waljee of the V. Ann Arbor Healthcare System listed three serious risks that can follow as few as three days of treatment with corticosteroids taken orally even by relatively young, otherwise healthy patients: gastrointestinal bleeding, sepsis and heart failure.
A Danish study found an elevated risk of diabetes and osteoporosis among patients who had received one or more steroid shots a year for three or more years to treat allergic rhinitis, another use of steroids lacking evidence of benefit. Evan L. Dvorin, internist at the Ochsner Health System and Dr. Mark H. Ebell of the University of Georgia, writing in the journal American Family Physician, added several other frightening side effects linked to the brief use of steroids: elevated blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, mood and sleep disturbances, fracture and blood clots.
In an interview, Dr. McCoul said. However, even short courses of systemic corticosteroids are associated with many possible adverse effects. Furthermore, there is no credible evidence to justify such risks when treating a condition like a cold or sinus infection, the Michigan doctors noted. However, Drs. This may be more common in people with a previous history of mood disturbance. Taking steroid tablets for a long time can make you more likely to get infections.
See your doctor or the person treating you straight away if you develop chickenpox, shingles or measles, or if you come into contact with someone who has any of these illnesses. Sometimes these diseases can be severe in people who are taking steroids, and you might need to have other treatment before you start to get better. Steroids taken for a long time can also cause your muscles to become weaker, and they might occasionally affect periods in women.
If you're taking high doses of steroids, or if you're on them for more than three weeks, you'll need to carry a steroid card. This will have information on your dose and how long you've been taking them for. Your doctor, rheumatology nurse or pharmacist should give you a steroid card if you need one. Make sure any change to your dose of steroid is updated on the card. Steroid treatment can stop the body producing natural hormones, which can be dangerous if you get ill, have an accident or need an operation.
Keeping the card with you will help any other doctor who treats you to manage your care correctly. If you have any questions or concerns about this, talk to the healthcare professional who prescribed your steroids. The person treating you might change the dose of your medications if needed.
Steroids can affect the eyes, for example by making glaucoma worse or causing cataracts. They can also cause a problem with your eyes known as serous chorioretinopathy see-russ core-ee-oh-ret-in-op-ath-ee , which happens when fluid collects in part of the eye. If you notice any changes in your eyesight, such as your vision becoming blurry, be sure to let your doctor know as soon as possible.
This can cause thinning of the skin, stretch marks, and the face to become rounder, but it usually clears up once steroids are stopped. If growth is slowed, they might be referred to a specialist doctor for advice. Making sensible food choices and including some physical activity in your daily routine should help you avoid putting on weight. Steroids can weaken bones, which can lead to a condition known as osteoporosis.
Your doctor may advise you to take drugs called bisphosphonates , or calcium and vitamin D supplements , along with the steroids to help prevent this. Regular exercise , especially things that involve your bones carrying the weight of your body, such as walking, can also help to reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis. You should also make sure you get enough calcium in your diet , and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Steroids can be taken along with other drugs.
Both alcohol and steroid tablets could upset your stomach. If you have indigestion or other stomach problems after starting steroids, then alcohol is likely to add to the problem, so you may want to cut back on how much alcohol you drink. You can find out more about units of alcohol at www. Current guidelines say that some steroid tablets, including prednisolone, can be taken during pregnancy.
You should discuss the risks with your doctor if you have any concerns. Download steroids information booklet. Print this page. What are steroids? Related information. How is the steroid taken? What does it do? What conditions is it used for? What is a common name for this type? By mouth — tablets, liquids, dissolvable tablets, also known as oral steroids Reduces inflammation throughout the whole body. Rheumatoid arthritis , lupus , gout , other types of inflammatory arthritis or autoimmune conditions.
Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, other types of inflammatory arthritis or autoimmune conditions. Uveitis prednisolone Applied to the skin as a cream or gel, also known as topical steroids Reduces inflammation on the skin. Psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. How are they taken?