Corticosteroid medicines-also called steroid 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. These medicines may help provide relief for diseases that
cause inflammation, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Common prescription steroid medicines include dexamethasone,
hydrocortisone, and prednisone.
Long-term use of steroid medicine 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 steroid medicine use include
cataract formation, decreased blood flow to the hip joint that causes
deterioration of the joint (aseptic necrosis or avascular necrosis), and
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology