Steroid Side Effects


Oral and injected corticosteroids (or simply “steroids”) are medications used to treat inflammation in the body. When taken in oral or injected forms, the route of administration is termed “systemic.” These medicines are used to treat a wide variety of diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other autoimmune diseases. Systemic steroids are also used to treat asthma attacks, and on occasion, severe allergic rhinitis symptoms. Examples include prednisone, methylprednisolone (Medrol dose pack), and injectable triamcinolone (Kenalog).

When people think about the side effects of steroids, they usually mean the side effects of systemic steroids. While systemic steroids are often necessary and life-saving medicines needed to treat inflammation, they don’t come without side effects. Most side effects are from short-term use; however, long-term use can lead to additional side effects.


Short-Term Side Effects of Systemic Steroids


Most people receive systemic steroids for only a few days at a time, and experience only temporary side effects. These may include an increase in appetite, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), changes in mood and behavior, flushing (redness) of the face, and short-term weight gain due to increased water retention. These side effects usually resolve after a few days once the steroids have been stopped.


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