Oral SteroidsThere are several different forms of steroid medicines. The form discussed in this leaflet is the tablet form, taken by mouth, called oral steroids. Other types of steroids include creams, inhalers, drops and sprays. Steroids also known as cortisone or corticosteroids are chemicals hormones that occur naturally in the body. Steroids decrease inflammation, suppress the body's immune system, steroid and body DNA from being made, as well as blocking a chemical called histamine released during an steroid and body reaction.
Oral Steroids | Types and Side Effects | Patient
There are several different forms of steroid medicines. The form discussed in this leaflet is the tablet form, taken by mouth, called oral steroids. Other types of steroids include creams, inhalers, drops and sprays.
Steroids also known as cortisone or corticosteroids are chemicals hormones that occur naturally in the body. Steroids decrease inflammation, suppress the body's immune system, block DNA from being made, as well as blocking a chemical called histamine released during an allergic reaction.
Steroid medicines are man-made but are similar to these natural hormones. Steroids used to treat disease are called corticosteroids. They are different to the anabolic steroids which some athletes and bodybuilders use. Anabolic steroids have very different effects. Steroids are available as tablets, soluble tablets, and liquids solutions , creams, ointments, inhalers and injections.
The other group is called mineralocorticoids. They are also used to treat some cancers. In addition they can be prescribed as replacement treatment for people whose own natural steroids are lacking for example, in Addison's disease and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. This will vary with individual steroids and with the condition for which they are prescribed. For short courses, usually a relatively high dose is prescribed each day, for a few days or a week or so, and then stopped abruptly at the end of the course.
If taken for more than three weeks, the dose will need to be tailed off gradually. For those who have to take steroids for a longer time, a common treatment plan is to start with a high dose to control symptoms.
Often the dose is then slowly reduced to a lower daily dose that keeps symptoms away. The length of treatment can vary, depending on the disease. Sometimes the steroid treatment is gradually stopped if the condition improves. However, steroids are needed for life for some conditions, as symptoms return if the steroids are stopped. Your pharmacist will give you exact instructions. It will depend on which steroid you take, and what it is for. Mostly steroids are taken first thing in the morning, with food.
A short course of steroids usually causes no side-effects. For example, a 1- to 2-week course is often prescribed to ease a severe attack of asthma. This is usually taken without any problems.
Side-effects are more likely to occur if you take a long course of steroids more than months , or if you take short courses repeatedly. The higher the dose, the greater the risk of side-effects. This is why the lowest possible dose which controls symptoms is aimed for if you need steroids long-term. Some diseases need a higher dose than others to control symptoms. Even for the same disease, the dose needed often varies from person to person. For many diseases, the benefits of taking steroids usually outweigh the side-effects.
However, side-effects can sometimes be troublesome. You should read the information leaflet that comes with your medicine packet for a full list of possible side-effects. The main possible side-effects include the following:. The above are only the main possible side-effects which may affect some people who take steroids.
There is often a balance between the risk of side-effects against the symptoms and damage that may result from some diseases if they are not treated. Some of the less common side-effects are not listed above but will be included on the leaflet that comes with your medicine. There are very few people who cannot take oral corticosteroids.
Only people who have serious infections and are not taking treatment for the infection should not take oral steroids. This is because steroids suppress your immune system. If you have taken a short course of weeks of an oral steroid, you can simply stop taking the tablets at the end of the course.
Do not stop taking oral steroids suddenly if you have been taking them for more than three weeks. It probably does no harm to forget the odd dose. However, you may have serious withdrawal effects once your body is used to the steroids. These may develop within a few days if you stop oral steroids suddenly. Any change in dose should be supervised by a doctor.
Any reductions in dose are done slowly, over a number of weeks. Your body normally makes steroid chemicals by itself which are necessary to be healthy. When you take oral steroids for a few weeks or more, your body may reduce or stop making its own steroid chemicals.
If you then stop taking oral steroids suddenly, your body does not have any steroids. This can cause various withdrawal symptoms until your body resumes making natural steroids over a few weeks. The withdrawal symptoms can be serious, even life-threatening and include:. If the dose is reduced gradually, the body gradually resumes its natural production of steroids and the withdrawal symptoms do not occur. Potentially, many other medicines can "interact" with steroids. This means the steroid could affect how they work, either resulting in the other medicine being ineffective, or having more side effects than usual.
Or they can interact the other way round, with the other medicine affecting the corticosteroid. Doses may have to be adjusted accordingly in order for both medicines to be taken together.
As long as your doctor knows you are taking this, he or she can advise accordingly. Usually you can take both medicines, but you may need to be monitored for the effects. For example, you may need blood tests to check the combination is not causing any problems. Doses can then be adjusted as necessary.
Your doctor will help you weigh up the pros and cons but, generally speaking, steroids can usually be used safely in pregnant or breast-feeding women.
The lowest dose possible for the shortest possible amount of time would be used. If you think you have had a side-effect to one of your medicines you can report this on the Yellow Card Scheme. You can do this online at www. The Yellow Card Scheme is used to make pharmacists, doctors and nurses aware of any new side-effects that medicines or any other healthcare products may have caused.
If you wish to report a side-effect, you will need to provide basic information about:. Did you find this information useful?
Gupta A, Gupta Y ; Glucocorticoid-induced myopathy: Pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. I have a disease called Bechet's which requires taking predinsone for a period of time or bursts of predisone depending if I have a flare up with Bechet's. When I tapered off of predisone and I am This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy.
Steroid medicines known as corticosteroids are man-made versions of natural steroids. In this article arrow-down What oral steroids are there? Oral Steroids In this article What oral steroids are there? Types of oral steroids What are oral steroids usually prescribed for? What is the dose? When do I take it? Do steroids cause any side-effects? Who cannot take oral corticosteroids? How do I stop oral steroids?
Some other important points about oral steroids Can I take other medicines when I am taking steroids? What should I do if I am taking one of the medicines which interact with steroids? Can I take steroids if I am pregnant or breast-feeding? What oral steroids are there? Blurred vision is an established side-effect of steroid treatment and may be a symptom of cataract and glaucoma. In rare cases, however, it could indicate the presence of CSCR. If you have received corticosteroid treatment and have visual symptoms, your healthcare professional should consider referral to an eye specialist for evaluation of possible causes.
How to use the Yellow Card Scheme If you think you have had a side-effect to one of your medicines you can report this on the Yellow Card Scheme.