Corticosteroids

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 osteoporosis.

Last Revised: May 10, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.