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Reactions to corticosteroids

By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Corticosteroids are a group of drugs used to treat various conditions, particularly inflammations and allergic reactions.

Like other drugs, corticosteroids can produce some negative effects, such as allergic reactions and overdose problems.

Allergic responses

Corticosteroids are commonly used to treat allergic reactions, but in some cases people may actually be allergic to the corticosteroid itself. Skin patch tests can then be used to see if the patient is allergic to a particular corticosteroid or to many of these drugs.

Asthmatics and kidney transplant patients are most likely to develop an allergic reaction than other patients.

The following symptoms may occur if a patient has an allergic response to corticosteroids:


         Trouble breathing








Allergic reactions may occur immediately or be delayed. A severe allergic reaction may cause death, but this is rare.

Corticosteroids applied to the skin (such as in treatment of excema or severe dermatitis) will often result in allergic responses on the skin.


A single does of corticosteroid is unlikely to cause any medical issues, unless there is an allergic reaction or the does is extremely large.

However, taking too many doses close together may lead to an overdose which may be lethal. An overdose may produce the following symptoms:

         Swelling in the lower legs, ankles and feet

         Joint or muscle pain

         Diabetes gets worse

         Stomach pain

         Purple blotches on the skin



         Blurred vision

         Worsening of ulcer


         Muscle weakness

         Increased thirst and/or urination

         No periods


         Hypertension (high blood pressure)


         Itchy or burning skin

         Dry skin




If you experience some of these symptoms whilst taking corticosteroids, get medical advice soon.

Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome

During any steroid treatment, the adrenal glands stop producing the hormone cortisol*. It takes time for the body to readjust and start making cortisol again when the drug is removed so it is critical that corticosteroids are progressively stopped.

A fast withdrawal from long term or high dose use of corticosteroids could result in a very low amount of cortisol in the blood. This could lead to an adrenal crisis which is life threatening.

Steroid withdrawal syndrome, or the rebound effect, often shows first as fever, muscle pain and joint pain which may be confused with a return of the original problem that the corticosteroid was treating.


* cortisol is the natural hormone than corticosteroids mimic.


Clear communication is critical to the success of any business, but it is often left to care for itself in many businesses. Tash Hughes is a microbiologist, and a professional and skilled writer who makes technical and otherwise boring information accessible for everyone a business needs to communicate with. Next time you need webcopy, articles, newsletters, reports or any other business document, visit www.wordconstructions.com to see how Tash and her team can help your business succeed.



2007, Tash Hughes

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