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 osteoporosis.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Rheumatology