How to Manage the Side Effects of Steroids

Corticosteroids such as Prednisone are commonly prescribed for a number of illnesses. When used for a respiratory infection or a rash, the course of steroids for these illnesses is usually short and the side effects have a minimum effect on the patient. When steroids are prescribed for a chronic autoimmune disease such as lupus, arthritis or Crohn’s Disease, the side effects can be more serious.

Steroids stop the body’s immune system from working, which is why doctors prescribe them to patients with autoimmune disease. People with these diseases have overactive immune systems. Steroids stop the immune system from working, but they make patients more likely to get serious infections as well as conditions from the side effects of the steroids. Let you doctor know if you have any of the following side effects from steroids.

Here are some of the most common side effects caused by steroids when used for short periods:

∙ · Increased blood pressure

∙ · Weight gain with fat deposits developing in your face, abdomen and back of the neck

∙ · Fluid retention

∙ · Mood swings

If treatment with steroids is prolonged, other side effects may occur. Some of them include:

∙ · Diabetes from high blood sugar

∙ · Fractures due to loss of calcium

∙ · Bleeding in the stomach or Gastric Ulcers

According to the Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com, steps can be taken to reduce some of the side effects of steroids. It is important to work with your doctor to make the best health plan for you. Here are some of the things you can do to reduce the side effects of steroids.

Improve your diet – Steroids can raise your blood sugar which can put you at risk for diabetes. Also, high blood sugar can cause confusion, fatigue and headaches. Eat less sugar and carbohydrates. Your doctor may want to test your blood sugar levels if you stay on steroids for a long period of time. It is also important to reduce your salt intake, as steroids can raise your blood pressure.

Exercise – Steroids can cause muscle weakness. Exercise can help keep your muscles strong. A regular exercise plan may also help lower the risk of osteoporosis.

Take supplements – Calcium and vitamin D may reduce bone loss from steroids.

Reduce stress – Take time to find an activity you enjoy and practice it daily. It may be yoga, meditation or something as simple as setting time aside to read a magazine. It is important to remember that your emotional health is as important as your physical health.

Take steroids after a meal – Heartburn will be less likely if you take your medication on a full stomach. If you have heartburn, tell your doctor.

Taking steroids for a long period of time is difficult, but is often the only solution to a number of medical problems. If you take the above steps to reduce the side effects of steroids, you may find it much easier to tolerate corticosteroids.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is meant for educational purposes only. If you have any questions about your health, contact your medical professional.

Sources:

http://www.hss.edu/conditions_reduce-corticosteroid-side-effects.asp