Posted by: Thixia | June 10, 2008

corticosteroids 3 of 5


Side effects of inhaled corticosteroids

When using inhaled corticosteroids, some of the drug may deposit in your mouth and throat instead of making it to your lungs.  This can cause coughing, hoarseness, dry mouth and sore throat.  Gargling and rinsing your mouth with water and spitting it out after each use may reduce such effects.  Although some researchers have speculated that these drugs slow growth rates in children who use them for asthma, studies show that they don’t affect final adult height.




Side effects of topical corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroids can lead to thin skin, red lesions, and acne.




Side effects of injected corticosteroids

Injected corticosteroids can cause side effects near the site of the injection.  Side effects may include pain, infection, shrinking of soft tissue and loss of color in the skin.  Doctors usually limit corticosteroid injections to no more than three or four a year.




Reduce your risk of corticosteroid side effects


Despite their side effects, corticosteroid drugs remain an important medical treatment.  To get the most benefit with the least amount of risk:




Ask about low-dose medications and intermittent dosing.


Newer forms of corticosteroids come in varying strengths and lengths of action.  Ask your doctor about using low-dose, short-term medications or taking oral corticosteroids every other day instead of daily.




Ask about switching to nonoral forms of corticosteroids.


 Inhaled corticosteroids for asthma, for example, reach lung surfaces directly, reducing the rest of your body’s exposure to them and leading to fewer side effects.




Make healthy choices during therapy.


When you’re on corticosteroid medications for a prolonged period, talk to your doctor about ways to minimize side effects.  You may need to reduce the number of calories you eat or increase your physical activity to prevent weight gain.  Exercise can help reduce muscle weakness and osteoporosis risks.  And taking calcium and vitamin D supplements and prescription bisphosphonates, such as alendronate (Fosamax) or risedronate (Actonel), can minimize bone thinning due to corticosteroids.




Take care when discontinuing therapy.


 If you take oral corticosteroids for prolonged periods, your adrenal glands produce less of their natural steroid hormones. To give your adrenals time to recover this function, your doctor may advise you to reduce your dosage gradually over a period of weeks or even months. If the dosage is reduced too quickly, you may experience fatigue, body aches, lightheadedness, and difficulty recovering from minor illnesses.

The greatest risk to your health during corticosteroid withdrawal is the inability of your body to respond to the acute physical stress of serious illness, injury, surgery or general anesthesia. This can lead to shock and even death. Because additional corticosteroids can be given to you in preparation for surgery, it’s important that you tell all your doctors if you have taken corticosteroids during the preceding year.




A Compilation by Bonnie from:


·    Michael E. Pezim, MD 
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team 

·    The Canadian Press
Helen Branswell

Toronto, Ontario,



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