Disease: Steroid Drug Withdrawal

    Steroid withdrawal facts

    • Synthetic cortisone medications (corticosteroids) simulate cortisol, a naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Such drugs (for example, prednisone) have since benefited many, but are not without potential side effects.
    • The two major problems related to continuous steroid treatment are:
      1. drug side effects and
      2. symptoms due to changes in the balance of normal hormone secretion (withdrawal symptoms).
    • The production of corticosteroids is controlled by a "feedback mechanism," involving the adrenal glands, the pituitary gland and brain. known as the "Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis" (HPAA).
    • Using large doses for a few days, or smaller doses for more than two weeks, leads to a prolonged decrease in HPAA function.
    • Steroid use cannot be stopped abruptly; tapering the drug gives the adrenal glands time to return to their normal patterns of secretion.
    • Withdrawal symptoms (weakness, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) can mimic many other medical problems. Some may be life-threatening.
    • Tapering may not completely prevent withdrawal symptoms. Steroid withdrawal may involve many factors, including a true physiological dependence on corticosteroids.
    • Patients should carry a list of all your medications in your wallet to alert medical personnel in case of emergency.
    • Supplementation with corticosteroid medication may be needed during periods of stress (such as surgery), even up to a year after stopping corticosteroid therapy.

    Introduction

    Research conducted by Edward Calvin Kendall at the Mayo Clinic in the medical use of cortisone lead to a Nobel Prize in 1950. The drug simulated cortisol, a naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Such corticosteroid drugs (prednisone, prednisolone, and others) have since benefited many, and are commonly used to treat many conditions including allergic reactions, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. They are not without serious drawbacks, however. The two major problems related to continuous, long-term steroid treatment are drug side effects and symptoms due to changes in the balance of normal hormone secretion. The latter typically results from taking doses greater than our body's natural production (about 7.5 mg of prednisone per day). Once we begin to decrease or discontinue the dose, however; withdrawal symptoms may occur. Thus, steroids are typically given for the shortest possible time possible. Short-term steroid use is commonly without significant side effect, andis often a crucial treatment for a variety of issues, including allergies and asthma. Moreover, short-term use does not induce steroid withdrawal.

    What are steroid withdrawal symptoms?

    Steroid withdrawal symptoms can mimic many other medical problems. Weakness, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (which can lead to fluid and electrolyte abnormalities), and abdominal pain are common. Blood pressure can become too low, leading to dizziness or fainting. Blood sugar levels may drop. Women also may note menstrual changes. Less often, joint pain, muscle aches, fever, mental changes, or elevations of calcium may be noted. Decrease in gastrointestinal contractions can occur, leading to dilation of the intestine (ileus).

    Introduction

    Research conducted by Edward Calvin Kendall at the Mayo Clinic in the medical use of cortisone lead to a Nobel Prize in 1950. The drug simulated cortisol, a naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Such corticosteroid drugs (prednisone, prednisolone, and others) have since benefited many, and are commonly used to treat many conditions including allergic reactions, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. They are not without serious drawbacks, however. The two major problems related to continuous, long-term steroid treatment are drug side effects and symptoms due to changes in the balance of normal hormone secretion. The latter typically results from taking doses greater than our body's natural production (about 7.5 mg of prednisone per day). Once we begin to decrease or discontinue the dose, however; withdrawal symptoms may occur. Thus, steroids are typically given for the shortest possible time possible. Short-term steroid use is commonly without significant side effect, andis often a crucial treatment for a variety of issues, including allergies and asthma. Moreover, short-term use does not induce steroid withdrawal.

    What are steroid withdrawal symptoms?

    Steroid withdrawal symptoms can mimic many other medical problems. Weakness, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (which can lead to fluid and electrolyte abnormalities), and abdominal pain are common. Blood pressure can become too low, leading to dizziness or fainting. Blood sugar levels may drop. Women also may note menstrual changes. Less often, joint pain, muscle aches, fever, mental changes, or elevations of calcium may be noted. Decrease in gastrointestinal contractions can occur, leading to dilation of the intestine (ileus).

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

    Steroid withdrawal symptoms can mimic many other medical problems. Weakness, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (which can lead to fluid and electrolyte abnormalities), and abdominal pain are common. Blood pressure can become too low, leading to dizziness or fainting. Blood sugar levels may drop. Women also may note menstrual changes. Less often, joint pain, muscle aches, fever, mental changes, or elevations of calcium may be noted. Decrease in gastrointestinal contractions can occur, leading to dilation of the intestine (ileus).

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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