• Steroids are synthetic versions of hormones, which are naturally produced in the human body. Steroids are supposed to operate similarly to these hormones in order to lessen inflammation.
• They’re also known as corticosteroids, and they’re not the same as anabolic steroids, which are used by bodybuilders and athletes.
• Steroids will not heal your ailment, but they will significantly reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms such as discomfort, and stiffness.
• In most cases, inflammation is the body’s normal response to infection or bacteria.
• To combat infections or bacteria, your immune system creates extra fluid, which causes swelling, redness, and heat in the affected area.
• If you’ve ever had a cut or wound on your skin, you’ve probably seen this.
• In some cases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system mistakenly causes inflammation in the joints or other regions of the body, which can cause lasting damage if left untreated.
• Steroids can be administered to suppress this immunological response.
What are steroids?
- Steroids are naturally occurring hormones in the body. Steroid medications are synthetic hormones that mimic natural hormones produced by the body. Corticosteroids are steroids that are used to treat disease.
- They are not the same as anabolic steroids, which are used by some athletes and bodybuilders. The effects of anabolic steroids vary greatly.
- Steroids are synthetic versions of hormones that are naturally produced by the adrenal glands, which are located immediately above each kidney.
- When consumed in higher doses than your body usually generates, steroids:
- Inflammation should be reduced. Inflammation occurs when the immune system of the body reacts to an injury or illness.
- When the skin and tissues beneath the skin are affected, the area might become painful, hot, red, and swollen.
- Inflammation normally serves to protect you, but it can sometimes be harmful to your health.
- Inflammatory disorders such as asthma and eczema can benefit from steroids.
- Reduce the immune system’s activity, the body’s natural defence against disease and infection.
- This can aid in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hepatitis, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which are caused by the immune system wrongly attacking the body.
Types of steroids
- Steroids come in a variety of forms. The most common types are:
- tablets, syrups and liquids – such as prednisolone
- inhalers – such as beclometasone and fluticasone
- nasal sprays – such as beclometasone and fluticasone
- injections (given into joints, muscles or blood vessels) – such as methylprednisolone
- creams, lotions and gels – such as hydrocortisone skin cream
- Oral steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that are used to treat a variety of illnesses, including:
- Crohn’s disease
- Colitis ulcerative
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Adrenal insufficiency.
- As part of the treatment for various cancers.
· Topical steroids include skin creams, nasal sprays, and inhalers. Also the separate leaflet titled Topical Steroids (excluding Inhaled Steroids).
· Topical steroids for the skin are available in the form of creams, ointments, or lotions.
· Topical steroids are used to treat a variety of skin problems. The amount of topical steroid that should be applied is typically measured in fingertip units.
· Topical steroids can also be administered as:
o Eye drops used to treat inflammation on the surface of the eye caused by uveitis.
o Rectal foam or suppositories are used to treat ulcerative colitis (proctitis) or Crohn’s disease that affects the rectum.
Steroid nasal sprays
- Steroid nasal sprays are medications that are often used to treat nasal stuffiness or congestion.
- They are most commonly used to treat nasal allergies, such as hay fever.
- Steroid inhalers are steroids that are inhaled into the lungs. Steroids are primarily utilised in the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD)
· Steroid injections can help with joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be utilised to treat soft tissue problems such as tendon irritation or tennis elbow.
How Steroids work?
· Steroids are synthetic versions of hormones that are naturally produced by the adrenal glands, which are two tiny glands above the kidneys.
· Steroids diminish redness and swelling when taken in higher doses than your body typically generates (inflammation). This can aid in the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as asthma and eczema.
· Steroids also suppress the immune system, the body’s natural defence against disease and infection.
· This can aid in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which are caused by the immune system wrongly attacking the body.
How are they taken?
- Steroids are administered in many methods, and the dosage varies depending on the ailment. Always take medication as directed by the person who is treating you.
- Tablets, liquids and soluble tablets
- Usually once a day.
- Preferably in the morning.
- Either with or after food to prevent stomach problems.
- Creams and gels
- Usually once or twice a day for a few weeks.
- Your doctor might suggest taking them less often but for a longer period.
- Should only be used on affected areas of the skin.
- Eye drops and ointments
- May need to be taken regularly throughout the day.
- Usually one drop in each eye each time you take it.
- To limit the chance of side effects, you will be given the lowest feasible dose for the shortest possible time.
- Your dose will most likely be gradually reduced as your symptoms improve, or your doctor may recommend a milder medicine.
- It is critical that you do not discontinue taking steroids without first consulting with the person who is treating you.
- If you’ve been using steroid tablets for more than a few days, stopping abruptly can result in withdrawal symptoms.
- You may be given a tiny amount, known as a maintenance dose, for an extended period of time to ensure that your symptoms do not recur.
Side effects of Steroids
· Steroids do not typically cause severe adverse effects when used for a short period of time or at a low dose.
· However, they can occasionally induce undesirable side effects such as increased hunger, mood changes, and problems sleeping.
· This is especially prevalent with steroid pills.
· The side effects normally go away once you finish the treatment, but do not stop taking your medication without first consulting your doctor.
· Stopping a prescribed course of treatment may result in additional undesirable side effects (withdrawal symptoms).
Other Side-effects and Risks
- Some patients will experience side effects, like with any medication. These are more likely if you’re taking steroids at a high dose or for an extended period of time.
- The person who is treating you will ensure that you are on the lowest possible dose in order to keep your condition under control.
- You may also be given a proton pump inhibitor or another medication to protect your stomach.
- The following are some of the negative effects of steroids:
- Tablets, liquids and soluble tablets
- weight gain and increased appetite
- stomach pains, indigestion or heartburn
- sleep problems
- changes in mood
- bruising easily
- thinning of the skin
- stretch marks.
- Creams and gels
- stinging or burning where the cream has been applied
- changes in skin colour
- thinning of the skin
- stretch marks
- increased hair growth where the cream has been applied.
- Eye drops and ointments
- stinging or burning in eyes after putting drops in
- a funny taste in the mouth after putting drops in.
- Steroid treatment may produce mood swings; you may feel extremely high or extremely down. This may be more likely in persons who have a history of mood disorders.
- If you are concerned about this, speak with the physician who is prescribing your steroids.
- Long-term use of steroid pills can increase your risk of infection. It’s critical to notify your doctor or rheumatology nurse if you develop a fever or other symptoms after starting steroids.
- If you have chickenpox, shingles, or measles, or if you come into touch with someone who has any of these illnesses, see your doctor or the person who is treating you right away.
- These disorders can be severe in people who take steroids, and you may require more treatment before you start to feel better.
- Steroids taken for an extended period of time can also cause muscle weakness, and they may occasionally interfere with women’s periods.
Carrying a steroid card
- You must carry a steroid card if you are taking large dosages of steroids or have been on them for more than three weeks.
- This will include your dose and how long you’ve been taking them.
- If you require steroids, your doctor, rheumatology nurse, or pharmacy should provide you with one.
- Make sure that any changes to your steroid dosage are noted on the card.
- Steroid medication can prevent the body from manufacturing natural hormones, which can be problematic if you become ill, have an accident, or require surgery.
- Keeping the card with you will assist any other doctor who treats you in properly managing your care.
- If you have any questions or concerns about this, speak with the doctor who prescribed your steroids.
- Steroid creams and eye drop seldom produce major adverse effects, but if you use them for an extended period of time or at a high dose, the medication may be absorbed into your bloodstream, increasing the chance of side effects that are ordinarily only seen with steroid tablets.
- Because steroids can sometimes cause diabetes, high blood pressure, or epilepsy, you’ll have your blood pressure and blood sugar levels monitored on a regular basis.
- If necessary, the person who is treating you may adjust the dose of your drugs.
- Steroids can sometimes cause diabetes or high blood sugar in persons who have never had it before.
- Steroids can have an effect on the eyes, such as worsening glaucoma or producing cataracts.
- They can also create a condition called as serous chorioretinopathy, which occurs when fluid gathers in a portion of the eye. If you detect any changes in your eyesight, such as blurred vision, notify your doctor as soon as possible.
- Steroids are man-made versions of hormones produced naturally by the adrenal glands, which are two small glands located above the kidneys.
- When taken in higher doses than your body normally produces, steroids reduce redness and swelling (inflammation).
- This can help in the treatment of inflammatory diseases like asthma and eczema.
- Steroids also inhibit the immune system, the body’s natural defence against infection and disease.
- This can help with the treatment of autoimmune illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which are caused by the immune system attacking the body incorrectly.
Managing side effects
- Regular exercise, particularly activities that involve your bones holding your body’s weight, such as walking, can also help to minimise your chance of developing osteoporosis.
- You should also ensure that you obtain adequate calcium in your diet and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Because steroids might promote weight gain or an increase in hunger, it’s critical to monitor your weight while using them.
- Making healthy eating choices and including physical activity into your daily routine should help you prevent gaining weight.
- Steroids can cause bone weakness, which can lead to osteoporosis. This syndrome increases your chances of breaking a bone, even after mild falls or bumps.
- To assist avoid this, your doctor may suggest you to take bisphosphonates, or calcium and vitamin D supplements, in addition to the steroids.
Effects on other treatments
- Steroids can be used with other medications. Some drugs, however, can interfere with steroids, so talk to your doctor before starting any new prescriptions, and tell anybody else who is treating you what you’re taking.
- Do not use over-the-counter or herbal medicines without first seeing your doctor, rheumatology nurse, or pharmacist.
- Some of the medicines listed below may interact with steroids, so inform your doctor if you are taking any of them:
- blood thinners or anticoagulants, such as warfarin
- medications for epilepsy, such as phenytoin or carbamazepine,
- diabetes drugs Xofigo, a prostate cancer treatment
- If you’re taking steroid pills, you should avoid live vaccines like yellow fever.
- A live vaccine may be required in some cases, but your doctor will discuss the potential dangers and benefits with you, and it may depend on the dose of steroids you’re taking.
- It is OK to receive immunizations while using a steroid cream, but you must inform the person administering the injection to avoid the area being treated with the cream.
- If you’re on a modest dose of steroids, you might be able to have the live shingles vaccination (Zostavax). There is also a non-live shingles vaccine (Shingrix) that you may be able to use instead. Your medical staff will be able to advise you on this.
- Because they are not live vaccinations, the vaccine against the most prevalent cause of pneumonia and the yearly flu vaccine do not interact with steroid pills.
- It is critical that you obtain these immunizations in order to lower your risks of contracting certain infections.