Adverse Effects of Steroids on Psoriasis

Steroids have been in use for the treatment of various diseases, given either locally (on skin) or oral tablets or through injections. Judicial use of steroid is life saving, however, now a days it is priscribed as routine drug.

Some of the major conditions where steroids is routinely used in conventional medicines, whereby the patients may develop serious side effect after a long term use :

  • Skin diseases : Psoriasis,Eczema,Vitiligo,ichen Planus etc.
  • Asthma
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Long term effects :

Some adverse effects of steroid develop over a period of time in people receiving long-term treatment. Steroid or steroid acetate taken on a long-term basis can cause many health problems. Some of them are :

Dependency :
One of the most important problems with the use of steroid is that it produces drug dependency. Once steroid used, it is likely that you may have to use it again, as the disease is likely to relapse on stopping it.
Rebound effect :
Another hurdle with the use of steroid in any form is the rebound effect after stopping its use. In most of the diseases such as psoriasis (local and oral steroid), vitiligo (local and oral steroid), urticaria (oral steroid), ulcerative colitis (oral steroid), nephrotic syndrome (local steroid), lichen planus (local, injectible and oral steroid), etc. it has been observed that patients receiving steroid respond well initially. However, either on stopping it or on long term use, there is either a severe relapse or flare up in the form of a rebound effect. Such a flare up is often difficult to handle with mild medicines; as it might require probably higher dose of steroid. This leads to a vicious cycle.
Suppresses immunity :
Steroid is an immunosuppressive medicine. It suppresses and alters the immunity, making one prone to have relapse of the same disease with more intensity.
Changes in appetite :
An increase in appetite and weight gain is seen in many long-term receivers of corticosteroid therapy.
Generalized swelling in the body :
Corticosteroids can cause excess water retention within the body, thus making it swell. Salt and water retention can also lead to high blood pressures and reduced levels of potassium in the blood.
Faulty fat deposition :
There may be excess fat deposition in the back, face, chest and abdomen.
Skin changes :
The skin becomes very delicate and bruises easily. It may appear very thin in certain areas with patchy discoloration. Wound healing may also take a longer time than usual. Acne and dry skin are other skin conditions commonly seen.
Repeated infections :
Corticosteroids can depress your immune system, thus lowering our body's natural defenses against illnesses. Hence, repeated infections are very common in long-term Corticosteroid therapy.
Sleep problems :
Difficulty in falling asleep (insomnia) is a common side effect.
Mood changes :
Person can either become very irritable, very euphoric or depressed for no understandable reason.
Eye disorders :
Cataract, glaucoma and exophthalmos are known to occur in long-term Corticosteroid treatment.
Muscle weakness
Giddiness, Headaches, vertigo
Gastrointestinal upsets :
Stomach ulcers and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) are common conditions arising from long-term treatment.
Adrenal suppression :
Long-term treatment with Corticosteroids can suppress the natural production of these hormones from the adrenal glands. This particularly occurs when these medications are suddenly stopped or not tapered off properly.
Diabetes :
Long-term use of Corticosteroids can result in increased blood sugar levels.

Critical adverse effects :

Adverse reactions to steroid can call for emergency care. Seek immediate medical advice if you experience any of the following when on steroid therapy.

  • Sudden onset of visual disturbances.
  • Severe headache, giddiness, imbalance, weakness and rapid heart beat, with or without excessive sweating.
  • Any sudden skin eruptions like hives or urticaria. Sudden swelling of the face, lips or hands and feet.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Black or bloody stools.

More about steroid :

It is very easy for any physician to get you started treatment with steroid or steroid. However, it is not easy to stop steroid! Abuse of steroid is often a bigger medical issue than the basic disease itself. Ask your doctor following questions before you start with the prescription of steroid :

  • Is this steroid therapy really essential at this time ?
  • Is it going to cure my disease ?
  • How long will I have to take it ?
  • What will happen when I will stop it ?
  • What are the likely adverse effects ?
  • On discontinuing the use of steroid, will my disease relapse ? If yes, will I require to use steroid once again or I will be able to manage with milder medicine at that time ?

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