Corticosteroids, often referred to steroids, are a form of anti-inflammatory medicines that are prescribed to treat a range of conditions including arthritis and asthma. These steroid hormones can also be produced by the body. In the body, corticosteroids are produced in the cortex, the outer part of adrenal gland. Naturally occurring corticosteroids aid in suppressing inflammation and autoimmunity while also assisting in breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Other forms of these steroids help the retention of salts, thus regulating the balance of salt and water in the body. Corticosteroid drugs usually mimic the function of the naturally occurring steroids. People who cannot produce adequate corticosteroids themselves may be prescribed these synthetic steroids.
Drugs that are classified as corticosteroids are listed below.
- Betamethasone (Celestone)
- Prednisolone (Prelone, Orapred)
- Prednisone (Prednisone Intensol)
- Methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol, Medrol, Depo-Medrol)
- Triamcinolone (Kenalog,Aristospan Intralesional, Aristospan Intra-Articular)
- Dexamethasone (DexPak 6 Day, DexPak 10 Day, Dexamethasone Intensol, DexPak 13 Day)
Corticosteroid drugs are used to treat conditions like arthritis, asthma, colitis, bronchitis, inflammatory or allergic reactions involving eyes and nose, as well as some skin rashes. Some other corticosteroids are used to treating conditions like lymphoma, severe psoriasis, systemic lupus, leukemia, and autoimmune hemolytic anemia. People with hyperactive immune system may be prescribed corticosteroids to suppress the activity. These drugs may be administered to prevent rejection during organ transplants.
Corticosteroids Side Effects
Patients taking corticosteroids may experience side effects that could range from mild to serious. The side effects could become more apparent in cases where these drugs are used for extended periods or administered at higher doses. The side effects include loss of potassium, high blood pressure, headache, and muscle weakness.
Patients may also experience edema or swelling of legs and weight gain due to increased fluid and salt retention. Other side effects likely to be seen are such as facial hair growth, puffiness of face, and slow healing of wounds.
Since corticosteroids suppress immune system, they might increase the chances of suffering infections and reduce the effectiveness of medications like antibiotics and vaccines. There are many other side effects associated with use of corticosteroids. If you notice these or other side effects when you are using corticosteroids, you should contact your doctor immediately, especially if they are severe or persistent.
Like any other drug, corticosteroids may interact with other drugs and medications. Below are listed drugs that may interact with corticosteroids. Note that not all interactions are listed here.