Episode # 7 Steroids
Show Notes: The links shown below are the basis of the podcast episode information and contain information in the podcast and more. Please talk with your healthcare provider and pharmacist for further information and clarification.
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What are corticosteroids?
Corticosteroids are man-made drugs that closely resemble cortisol, a hormone that your adrenal glands produce naturally. Corticosteroids are often referred to by the shortened term “steroids.” Corticosteroids are different from the male hormone-related steroid compounds that some athletes abuse.
What are some types of steroids?
Some corticosteroid medicines include cortisone, prednisone and methylprednisolone. Prednisone is the most commonly used type of steroid to treat certain rheumatologic diseases (like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus).
How are steroids given?
Steroid medications are available in several forms that vary in how easily they dissolve or how long they stay in the body.
Steroids might be given locally, to the precise place where a problem exists, or systemically, which means throughout the “system” or body.
Examples of local steroid treatments include joint injections, eye drops, ear drops and skin creams. Systemic steroid treatments include oral medicines (given by mouth) or medicine that is delivered directly into a vein (intravenously or IV) or muscle (intramuscularly). Systemic steroids circulate through the bloodstream to various body sites.
When possible, local steroid treatments are prescribed instead of systemic steroids to reduce the risk of side effects.
How do steroids work?
Steroids work by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity of the immune system. Inflammation is a process in which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals can protect against infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. In certain diseases, however, the body’s defense system (immune system) doesn’t function properly. This might cause inflammation to work against the body’s tissues and cause damage. Signs of inflammation include:
Steroids reduce the production of chemicals that cause inflammation. This helps keep tissue damage as low as possible. Steroids also reduce the activity of the immune system by affecting the way white blood cells work.
What are the possible side effects of steroids?
The chance of side effects depends on the dose, type of steroid and length of treatment. Some side effects are more serious than others. Common side effects of systemic steroids include:
- Increased appetite.
- Weight gain.
- Changes in mood.
- Muscle weakness.
- Blurred vision.
- Increased growth of body hair.
- Easy bruising.
- Lower resistance to infection.
- Swollen, “puffy” face.
- Osteoporosis (bone weakening disease).
- Onset of, or worsening of, diabetes.
- Onset of, or worsening of, high blood pressure.
- Stomach irritation.
- Nervousness, restlessness.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Cataracts or glaucoma.
- Water retention, swelling.
These side effects are the most common side effects. All possible side effects are not included. Always contact your doctor if you have questions about your personal situation.