General Practice 2022

10 main side effects of corticosteroidsóides

Table of contents:

10 main side effects of corticosteroidsóides
10 main side effects of corticosteroidsóides
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Corticosteroids can cause side effects such as weight gain, acne, stretch marks, high blood pressure, bone fragility or difficulty sleeping, especially when used in high doses or for a long time. This is because corticosteroids alter the effect of the hormone cortisol, interfering with the functioning of cells throughout the body such as skin, fatty tissue or bones, for example.

Generally, these remedies are used to reduce inflammation or decrease the activity of the body's immune system related to he alth problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or even for the treatment of severe allergic reactions or anaphylactic reactions.

The side effects of corticosteroids can be mild and reversible, disappearing when the drug is stopped, or irreversible, and therefore, it is important that the use of these drugs is always done with medical advice and regular consultations to follow up treatment and the appearance of side effects.

Some of the most common adverse effects that may occur during treatment are:

1. Weight gain

Corticosteroids, especially when taken orally, can cause the body to retain more s alt, which in large amounts in the body increases fluid retention, which leads to weight gain.

In addition, corticosteroids cause an increase in appetite and also affect metabolism and the way the body deposits fat, leading to an increase and redistribution of body fat, which can accumulate mainly in the abdomen, face and behind the body. neck, as in Cushing's Syndrome, which can also contribute to weight gain.Learn how to treat Cushing's Syndrome.

2. Skin changes

Corticosteroids can cause skin changes even when used in low doses, however, it is more common to occur with higher doses and with prolonged treatment. This is because corticosteroids inhibit fibroblasts, which are skin cells responsible for collagen production, which can lead to the formation of red, very marked and wide stretch marks on the abdomen, thighs, breasts and arms.

In addition, the use of corticosteroids can increase the risk of developing acne, hair on the ears or dermatitis, and also make the skin thinner and more fragile, and small, thin, red blood vessels may appear. or browning on the skin, redness of the face, ecchymosis formation which are purple marks on the skin, and poor wound healing.

3. Diabetes

The use of corticosteroids increases the risk of developing diabetes, especially in people who have a family history of diabetes and an increased risk of developing this disease.This is because corticosteroids, especially in high doses, lead to a reduction in insulin production or an increase in insulin resistance, which causes an increase in the amount of glucose in the blood.

Usually, this side effect disappears when you stop using the corticosteroid and only remains when the person has a genetic predisposition to the disease or already has diabetes.

4. High blood pressure

Corticosteroids interfere with the balance of the amount of water, s alts and minerals in the body such as sodium, potassium and calcium, causing fluid retention within the blood vessels, which can cause or worsen high blood pressure.

Generally, this side effect is more common with higher doses of corticosteroids and with prolonged use of these drugs, and an increase in total cholesterol and atherosclerosis, which is the deposit of fat in the blood vessels, can also occur, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.Find out which are the most common cardiovascular diseases and how to treat them.

5. Osteoporosis

Prolonged use of corticosteroids can cause osteoporosis by causing a decrease in the number and activity of cells responsible for bone formation, and increasing bone absorption, leading to a loss of bone mass, making them more fragile and increasing the risk of fractures.

In addition, corticosteroids decrease the absorption of calcium by the bones, which is a fundamental mineral to strengthen, increase resistance and maintain bone he alth, and therefore, increases the risk of osteoporosis.

6. Changes in the stomach and intestine

Corticosteroids can cause changes in the stomach or intestine, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal effects such as heartburn, gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or gastrointestinal bleeding, especially when taken with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, acetylsalicylic acid, or naproxen, for example.

Furthermore, corticosteroids can also cause side effects in other organs related to the gastrointestinal system and increase the risk of developing pancreatitis or fatty liver. See how the treatment of fat in the liver is done.

7. Most frequent infections

People who take at least 20mg/day of prednisone are at greater risk of developing infections, as treatment with these drugs weakens the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections by fungi, bacteria, viruses or parasites, which can generate serious infections.

8. Eye changes

Corticosteroid use can cause changes in the eyes and increase the risk of developing cataracts in both eyes or lead to increased intraocular pressure, and in some cases, increases the risk of glaucoma, especially in people who have a history of in the glaucoma family.

Furthermore, corticosteroids can cause difficulty seeing or blurred vision, so it is recommended to have the eye he alth and eye pressure checked regularly while you are on corticosteroids.

9. Changes in mood and sleep

Corticosteroids can cause mood and sleep changes such as irritability, anxiety, euphoria, difficulty sleeping or insomnia, and in some cases, depression, memory loss or decreased concentration may also occur.

Furthermore, treatment with prednisone doses above 20 mg per day given for a prolonged period of time may cause psychosis.

10. Dyslipidemia

Prolonged use of corticosteroids can interfere with the metabolism of lipids in the body, which can cause an increase in the levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and bad cholesterol, LDL, and a decrease in levels of good cholesterol, HDL. In addition, it also stimulates the production of VLDL, increasing the risk of changes in the cardiovascular system, such as atherosclerosis and liver problems, such as fatty liver, for example.

Side effects in pregnancy

Corticosteroids should not be used by pregnant women, unless the doctor recommends it, after evaluating the relationship between the risks and benefits of the medication.

In the first 3 months of pregnancy, there is a greater chance that the baby will develop changes in the mouth, such as a cleft palate, premature birth or the baby being born with low weight. Learn what a cleft palate is and how to treat it.

Side Effects in Infants and Children

The use of corticosteroids by babies and children can lead to stunted growth or osteoporosis, due to decreased absorption of calcium from the intestine, in addition to the development of cataracts and an increase in the amount of hair on the body, especially on the arms, legs and back.

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