Corticosteroid medications are used to treat many medical conditions such as asthma, rashes, and lupus. Although beneficial, these drugs also carry serious side effects, so you need to work with your prescribing physician to make sure the benefits far outweigh its risks.
When prescribed in doses exceeding your body’s normal levels, steroid medications may suppress inflammation and reduce bothersome symptoms of inflammatory conditions like asthma and arthritis. Steroid medications also reduce your immunity, which helps control symptoms of autoimmune diseases like lupus.
Steroid medications may be administered via oral, intranasal, topical, or injection routes, and each route has its own possible side effects such as the following:
This route of administration affects your entire body and elicits the most significant side effects like:
- Weight gain
- Mood swings, confusion
- Elevated blood pressure
- Fluid retention, edema in the lower extremities
- Elevated eye pressure (glaucoma)
The problem with taking inhaled steroid medications is that some of the drug may remain in the throat and mouth that may cause the following side effects:
- Hoarseness of voice
- Oral fungal infection
- Skin lesions, acne
- Post-injection flare at the site of injection
- Facial flushing
- High blood sugar
While steroid medications may appear dangerous just by looking at this list, preventing these side effects is actually easy and manageable.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk for developing side effects from getting steroid medications:
1. Stay healthy during steroid therapy
Chronic steroid therapy may affect bone and muscle health, so getting regular exercise helps maintain healthy bone and muscle structure. It is also important to maintain a balanced diet to make sure your body is getting what it needs to heal itself.
2. Take Vitamin D and calcium supplements
As mentioned above, this is to supplement your bone density health that may be affected by long-term steroid therapy. However, it is best that you consult with your doctor first before taking any supplements.
3. Talk with your doctor about lower dosages
There are newer steroid formulations that have various strengths and lengths of action. Work with your physician to find the best option for you.
Read the full article by Mayo Clinic here to learn more about steroid therapy and how to best manage potential side effects.