What can steroids do

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Steroids are a man-made version of chemicals, known as hormones, that are made naturally in the human body. Steroids are deed to act like these hormones to reduce inflammation. Your immune system produces extra fluid to fight infections or bacteria, which causes swelling, redness and heat in the affected area. You might have noticed this if you have had a cut or wound on your skin. In some conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis , the immune system produces inflammation in the ts or other parts of the body by mistake, which can cause permanent damage if left untreated.

Steroids can be used to reduce this immune reaction. It causes t pain and inflammation. Learn about the symptoms, causes and treatment. Steroids can be taken in a of ways for many different types of arthritis and related conditions, as shown in the table below. Steroids are usually only given for a short time to quickly treat flare-ups of your condition. This is about steroids that can be taken as tablets, liquids, creams and eye drops and ointments.

Information about steroid injections is covered on a different . You might not be able to start steroids if you have an infection, or if you have any wounds on your body, as steroids might delay these getting better or cover up some of your symptoms. Steroids might affect some medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart or blood pressure problems, or mental health issues. If you have systemic sclerosis , prednisolone could cause problems with your kidneys at certain doses, so you might not be able to take this type of steroid.

Some other skin problems, such as rosacea, acne and ulcers, can be made worse by steroid creams so you might not be able to take them if you have any of these conditions. If you normally wear contact lenses, you might need to avoid wearing these while having treatment with steroid eye drops. Steroids are taken in different ways, and the dosage may vary depending on the condition you have. The table below gives an idea of how often you might need to take steroids.

You will be given the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time, to reduce the risk of side effects. Your dose will probably be reduced gradually as your symptoms improve, or your doctor might suggest a weaker medication. As with all medicines, some people will have side effects. You might also be given a drug called a proton pump inhibitor or another medicine to protect your stomach.

Treatment with steroids may cause changes in mood — you may feel very high or very low. This may be more common in people with a history of mood disturbance. Taking steroid tablets for a long time can make you more likely to get infections. See your doctor or the person treating you straight away if you develop chickenpox, shingles or measles, or if you come into contact with someone who has any of these illnesses.

Sometimes these diseases can be severe in people who are taking steroids, and you might need to have other treatment before you start to get better. Steroids taken for a long time can also cause your muscles to become weaker, and they might occasionally affect periods in women. If you're taking high doses of steroids, or if you're on them for more than three weeks, you'll need to carry a steroid card. This will have information on your dose and how long you've been taking them for.

Your doctor, rheumatology nurse or pharmacist should give you a steroid card if you need one. Make sure any change to your dose of steroid is updated on the card. Steroid treatment can stop the body producing natural hormones, which can be dangerous if you get ill, have an accident or need an operation. Keeping the card with you will help any other doctor who treats you to manage your care correctly.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, talk to the healthcare professional who prescribed your steroids. The person treating you might change the dose of your medications if needed. Steroids can affect the eyes, for example by making glaucoma worse or causing cataracts. They can also cause a problem with your eyes known as serous chorioretinopathy see-russ core-ee-oh-ret-in-op-ath-ee , which happens when fluid collects in part of the eye.

If you notice any changes in your eyesight, such as your vision becoming blurry, be sure to let your doctor know as soon as possible. This can cause thinning of the skin, stretch marks, and the face to become rounder, but it usually clears up once steroids are stopped. If growth is slowed, they might be referred to a specialist doctor for advice. Making sensible food choices and including some physical activity in your daily routine should help you avoid putting on weight. Steroids can weaken bones, which can lead to a condition known as osteoporosis.

Your doctor may advise you to take drugs called bisphosphonates , or calcium and vitamin D supplements , along with the steroids to help prevent this. Regular exercise , especially things that involve your bones carrying the weight of your body, such as walking, can also help to reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis. You should also make sure you get enough calcium in your diet , and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Steroids can be taken along with other drugs. You may be able to have the live shingles vaccination Zostavax if you're on a low dose of steroids. Alternatively, there is a non-live shingles vaccine Shingrix that you may be able to have instead. Your healthcare team will be able to advise on this. Both alcohol and steroid tablets could upset your stomach. If you have indigestion or other stomach problems after starting steroids, then alcohol is likely to add to the problem, so you may want to cut back on how much alcohol you drink.

You can find out more about units of alcohol at www. Current guidelines say that some steroid tablets, including prednisolone, can be taken during pregnancy. You should discuss the risks with your doctor if you have any concerns. Download steroids information booklet. Print this . What are steroids? Related information. How is the steroid taken?

What does it do? What conditions is it used for? What is a common name for this type? By mouth — tablets, liquids, dissolvable tablets, also known as oral steroids Reduces inflammation throughout the whole body.

Rheumatoid arthritis , lupus , gout , other types of inflammatory arthritis or autoimmune conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, other types of inflammatory arthritis or autoimmune conditions. Uveitis prednisolone Applied to the skin as a cream or gel, also known as topical steroids Reduces inflammation on the skin. Psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. How are they taken? You should always take medication as prescribed by the person 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. Side-effects and risks. Some of the side effects of steroids are shown below: 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. Carrying a steroid card. Effects on other treatments. Having an operation. Fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

By mouth — tablets, liquids, dissolvable tablets, also known as oral steroids. Reduces inflammation in the area of the body where the injection is given.

What can steroids do

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