Corticosteroid medicines are similar to natural hormones produced
in the body that help control many necessary functions, including blood sugar
and salt (electrolyte) levels, the body's water balance, and immune system
function. Corticosteroid medicines are often used to treat diseases that
cause inflammation, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Common prescription corticosteroids include dexamethasone,
hydrocortisone, and prednisone.
Long-term use of corticosteroids has many side effects, including
weight gain, stomach ulcers, sleeping difficulties, increased blood pressure,
increased blood sugar (glucose), delayed wound healing, and a reduced ability
to fight infection. Other problems associated with corticosteroid use include
cataract formation, decreased blood flow to the hip joint that causes
deterioration of the joint (aseptic necrosis or avascular necrosis), and
May 10, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
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