Prednisone and other corticosteroids

Weigh the benefits and pitfalls of corticosteroids, this kind of as prednisone, when deciding on a medication.

By Mayo Clinic Employees

Corticosteroid medications — like cortisone, hydrocortisone and prednisone — are beneficial in treating many ailments, this kind of as rashes, inflammatory bowel illness and bronchial asthma. But these medications also have a risk of several side consequences.

How do corticosteroids work?

When approved in doses that exceed your body’s typical ranges, corticosteroids suppress irritation. This can minimize the signs and indications of inflammatory ailments, this kind of as arthritis, bronchial asthma or skin rashes.

Corticosteroids also suppress your immune program, which can assist control ailments in which your immune program mistakenly assaults its possess tissues.

How are corticosteroids utilized?

Corticosteroid medications are utilized to address rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel illness (IBD), bronchial asthma, allergy symptoms and many other ailments. These medications also assist suppress the immune program in order to avoid organ rejection in transplant recipients. Corticosteroids also address Addison’s illness, a rather rare ailment in which the adrenal glands usually are not in a position to produce even the minimum amount amount of corticosteroid that the system needs.

Corticosteroids are administered in many diverse approaches, depending on the ailment staying taken care of:

  • By mouth. Tablets, capsules or syrups assist address the irritation and agony associated with certain long-term ailments, this kind of as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • By inhaler and intranasal spray. These kinds assist control irritation associated with bronchial asthma and nasal allergy symptoms.
  • In the kind of eyedrops. This kind assists address inflammation after eye surgical procedures.
  • Topically. Creams and ointments can assist heal many skin ailments.
  • By injection. This kind is often utilized to address muscle mass and joint signs and indications, this kind of as the agony and irritation of tendinitis.

What side consequences can corticosteroids lead to?

Corticosteroids have a risk of side consequences, some of which can lead to really serious overall health difficulties. When you know what side consequences are attainable, you can just take actions to control their impact.

Facet consequences of oral corticosteroids

Mainly because oral corticosteroids have an affect on your full system instead of just a unique area, this route of administration is the most very likely to lead to significant side consequences. Facet consequences depend on the dose of medication you receive and may possibly involve:

  • Fluid retention, triggering inflammation in your decreased legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Complications with temper swings, memory, actions, and other psychological consequences, this kind of as confusion or delirium
  • Upset tummy
  • Excess weight achieve, with extra fat deposits in your stomach, your facial area and the back of your neck

When getting oral corticosteroids longer phrase, you may possibly knowledge:

  • Elevated pressure in the eyes (glaucoma)
  • Clouding of the lens in just one or each eyes (cataracts)
  • A spherical facial area (moon facial area)
  • High blood sugar, which can result in or worsen diabetic issues
  • Greater risk of infections, specially with prevalent bacterial, viral and fungal microorganisms
  • Thinning bones (osteoporosis) and fractures
  • Suppressed adrenal gland hormone output that may possibly result in a selection of signs and indications, like critical exhaustion, loss of urge for food, nausea and muscle mass weak point
  • Slender skin, bruising and slower wound healing

Facet consequences of inhaled corticosteroids

When working with an inhaled corticosteroid, some of the drug may possibly deposit in your mouth and throat instead of building it to your lungs. This can lead to:

  • Fungal infection in the mouth (oral thrush)
  • Hoarseness

If you gargle and rinse your mouth with h2o — never swallow — after just about every puff on your corticosteroid inhaler, you may possibly be in a position to keep away from mouth and throat discomfort. Some scientists have speculated that inhaled corticosteroid medications may possibly gradual progress rates in youngsters who use them for bronchial asthma.

Facet consequences of topical corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroids can direct to thin skin, purple skin lesions and zits.

Facet consequences of injected corticosteroids

Injected corticosteroids can lead to short-term side consequences in the vicinity of the website of the injection, like skin thinning, loss of shade in the skin, and intensive agony — also recognized as article-injection flare. Other signs and indications may possibly involve facial flushing, sleeplessness and substantial blood sugar. Physicians ordinarily limit corticosteroid injections to three or four a calendar year, depending on just about every patient’s problem.

Lessen your risk of corticosteroid side consequences

To get the most advantage from corticosteroid medications with the minimum amount of risk:

  • Ask your health care provider about hoping decreased doses or intermittent dosing. Newer kinds of corticosteroids arrive in several strengths and lengths of action. Ask your health care provider about working with reduced-dose, small-phrase medications or getting oral corticosteroids every other working day instead of day-to-day.
  • Communicate to your health care provider about switching to nonoral kinds of corticosteroids. Inhaled corticosteroids for bronchial asthma, for instance, achieve lung surfaces immediately, lessening the rest of your body’s exposure to them and leading to much less side consequences.
  • Ask your health care provider if you should just take calcium and vitamin D supplements. Long-phrase corticosteroid treatment may possibly lead to thinning bones (osteoporosis). Communicate with your health care provider about getting calcium and vitamin D supplements to assist shield your bones.
  • Get treatment when discontinuing treatment. If you just take oral corticosteroids for a extended time, your adrenal glands may possibly produce fewer of their all-natural steroid hormones. To give your adrenal glands time to recuperate this functionality, your health care provider may possibly minimize your dosage gradually. If the dosage is lessened also rapidly, your adrenal glands may possibly not have time to recuperate and you may possibly knowledge exhaustion, system aches and lightheadedness.
  • Don a clinical inform bracelet. This or identical identification is recommended if you’ve been working with corticosteroids for a extended time.
  • See your health care provider regularly. If you happen to be getting extended-phrase corticosteroid treatment, see your health care provider regularly to look at for side consequences.

Weigh the pitfalls and benefits of corticosteroids

Corticosteroids may possibly lead to a range of side consequences. But they may possibly also alleviate the irritation, agony and discomfort of many diverse disorders and ailments. Communicate with your health care provider to assist you better fully grasp the pitfalls and benefits of corticosteroids and make knowledgeable choices about your overall health.