Steroid or corticosteroid is a synthetic version of steroids produced by our body. Steroid medicines have different forms. In this article, we will discuss the tablet form or oral steroids. Other types include inhalers, cream, sprays, and drops. Topical steroids like creams and sprays are used as a treatment for eczema and skin diseases while inhalers are used for the treatment of respiratory illnesses like asthma.
Different kinds of oral steroids
Cortisone, corticosteroids or commonly known as steroids are hormones released by our body that helps decrease inflammation, helps our body suppress the immune system or block histamines (a chemical produced during an allergic reaction). An oral steroid is a man-made medicine made to copy what the natural hormones are doing in our body. Medicinal steroids or corticosteroids are different from anabolic steroids, which athletes use as performance enhancement drug. It is most common in bodybuilders, swimmers, cyclists and contact sports. There are different kinds of oral steroids. The most common group is glucocorticoid which includes:
Another group of steroid that is commonly used to treat patients is mineralocorticoid. It is used as a replacement if our body can’t produce natural steroids. One of the most common drugs in this category is fludrocortisone. Usually, these drugs come in tablet form, but solutions or dispersible table is also available.
Oral steroids are usually prescribed for patients with autoimmune diseases like lupus, inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, muscle and joint disease like rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, COPD or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, croup and asthma. Steroid in pill form is also used to treat cancer patients and for people who can’t produce steroid like people with Addison’s disease.
The dose varies depending on the patient, the disease being treated and the medicine used. For short term dose, they are usually high dose to be taken daily for at least one week. It will be gradually tailed off if they are taken for more than three weeks.
For a more extended treatment plan, the patient is given with a higher dose to fight the symptoms. It is then reduced to a lower daily dose to keep symptoms at bay. The length of the treatment depends on the kind of disease. If the condition improves, the dosage then gradually stopped. Some conditions need a lifetime dose of steroids because if the treatment is discontinued, symptoms will return.
What are the side effects?
Short course treatment usually has no side effects. Asthma patients are prescribed to take the drug for a week or two to ease the symptoms. The side effect occurs when the patient is treated with a long-term dose of steroids. Doctors always prescribe patients the lowest dose possible since the higher the treatment, the risk will be more significant to get side effects. Steroids are only given to control the symptoms of the disease. Side effect includes Osteoporosis, weight gain (recreational steroids like Crazy Bulk, the best legal steroids available in the market today used by athletes will have this symptom since steroids can cause increased muscle mass) and high risk to infections because steroids suppress the immune system.
According to www.WebMD.com, patients taking steroids should stay away from people with chicken pox and shingles. If you are contracted with tuberculosis, the symptoms may come back. The patient may also experience high blood pressure and high blood sugar, and it is vital to always to check the blood pressure and sugar level regularly. If you have a history of diabetes, it is better to check with your doctor so that they can arrange an annual blood sugar testing. And since patients under steroid treatment are prone to diabetes, make sure to check any skin lesions mainly in the leg area because steroid can also cause poor wound healing.
Muscle weakness or body malaise may also occur. The condition will eventually improve after the treatment, and therapy can also help.
According to studies by Mayo Clinic, people who undergo steroid treatment feels a sudden change in mood and behavior. People feel much better, but it can also cause depression tendencies and other mental health conditions. It usually happens to people under high dose treatment, and it occurs after a few days of treatment. Patients may develop delusional tendencies, irritability and mood swings. If these side effects occur, medical attention may be needed.