Understanding Oral Steroids: What are they and how do they work?
Oral steroids, also known as corticosteroids or glucocorticoids, are synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of the hormone cortisol. These steroids are commonly prescribed to treat a variety of conditions, such as asthma, allergies, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. While oral steroids can be highly effective in managing these conditions, they can also cause a range of side effects, including weight gain, mood changes, and osteoporosis.
How do Oral Steroids Work?
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland that helps regulate many bodily functions, including the immune system, metabolism, and stress response. Oral steroids work by mimicking the effects of cortisol in the body, suppressing inflammation and immune responses. This is why oral steroids are often prescribed for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by an overactive immune system attacking the joints.
One of the key ways that oral steroids work is by blocking the action of certain proteins in the body, such as NF-kB and AP-1, which are involved in inflammation and immune responses. By blocking these proteins, oral steroids help reduce inflammation and swelling in the body, leading to improved symptoms.
What Conditions are Treated with Oral Steroids?
Oral steroids are commonly used to treat a range of conditions, including:
– Asthma: Oral steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the airways and improve breathing in people with severe asthma.
– Allergies: Oral steroids can help relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies or allergic reactions to medications or other substances.
– Arthritis: Oral steroids can help reduce joint pain and inflammation in people with various types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
– Autoimmune disorders: Oral steroids can help suppress the immune system in conditions such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.
– Skin conditions: Oral steroids may be used to treat severe skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.
What are the Side Effects of Oral Steroids?
While oral steroids can be highly effective in managing many conditions, they can also cause a range of side effects. Some of the most common side effects of oral steroids include:
– Weight gain: Oral steroids can cause fluid retention and increased appetite, leading to weight gain.
– Mood changes: Oral steroids can affect mood and behavior, causing irritability, anxiety, and depression.
– Osteoporosis: Long-term use of oral steroids can lead to bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
– Increased risk of infections: Oral steroids can suppress the immune system, making people more susceptible to infections.
– High blood pressure and diabetes: Oral steroids can increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
How are Oral Steroids Prescribed and Used?
Oral steroids are typically prescribed by a doctor and should only be taken as directed. The dosage and duration of treatment will depend on the condition being treated, as well as other factors such as the person’s age, weight, and overall health.
It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking oral steroids, as abruptly stopping or changing the dose can oral steroids inexpensive in uk cause serious side effects. In some cases, oral steroids may need to be gradually tapered off to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Oral steroids can be highly effective in managing a range of conditions, but they can also cause a range of side effects. If you are prescribed oral steroids, it is important to talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits, as well as any other medications or supplements you may be taking. With proper use and monitoring, oral steroids can help improve symptoms and quality of life for many people.