Corticosteroids: Medical Uses, Administration, Side Effects, Precautions and Classification

They are artificial medicines that work like cortisol, a natural hormone in your body.

These drugs reduce inflammation and disrupt the immune system.

Medical uses

They are used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Arthritis.
  • Asthma.
  • Allergies
  • Skin conditions, such as rashes or eczema.
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or lupus.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Crohn’s disease .
  • Cancer.

Corticosteroids are different from anabolic steroids, which athletes sometimes use (and abuse).

How are corticosteroids given?

Corticosteroids can be taken in a variety of formulations:

  • Oral pill.
  • Oral liquid
  • Inhalation.
  • Topical cream.
  • Eye drops.
  • Eardrop.
  • Injection.
  • An IV infusion.
  • Common corticosteroids.

Some of the commonly used corticosteroids include:

  • Cortisone.
  • Hydrocortisone.
  • Sterapred.
  • Medrol.
  • Orapred.

Corticosteroid side effects

The side effects of corticosteroids are numerous and vary depending on the dose, the length of time the drugs are used, and the general health and age of the individual taking the pills.


Corticosteroid side effects can include:

  • Weight gain.
  • Increased hunger or thirst.
  • Frequent urination
  • Humor changes.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Increased body hair.
  • Acne.
  • Easy bruising.
  • Puffy and puffy face.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • High blood pressure
  • Worsening of diabetes
  • Nervousness.
  • Restlessness.
  • Stomachache.
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Water retention.
  • Swelling.
  • Cataracts or glaucoma.
  • Skin and vaginal infections.


Corticosteroids can increase your risk of developing an infection. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection, such as fever, sore throat, or cough.

Corticosteroids and diet

If you take a corticosteroid for a long time, your doctor may recommend a low-salt, high-potassium diet.

You may also be asked to eat extra protein and monitor your calorie intake to avoid weight gain.

You may need to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while taking corticosteroids, as they can affect how these medications work in your body. Talk to your doctor if this is a concern.

Corticosteroids and pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant while taking a corticosteroid.

These medications can harm an unborn baby, especially during the first trimester. Also, talk to your doctor before taking a corticosteroid if breastfeeding.


1.- Glucocorticoids such as cortisol affect the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and have anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, antiproliferative, and vasoconstrictive effects.

The anti-inflammatory effects are mediated by blocking the action of inflammatory mediators (transrepression) and inducing anti-inflammatory mediators (transactivation).

The immunosuppressive effects are mediated by suppressing delayed hypersensitivity reactions by direct action on T lymphocytes.

The antiproliferative effects are mediated by inhibiting DNA synthesis and epidermal cell renewal.

The vasoconstrictive effects are mediated by inhibiting the action of inflammatory mediators such as histidine.

2.- Mineralocorticoids such as aldosterone are mainly involved in regulating the balance of electrolytes and water by modulating the transport of ions in the epithelial cells of the renal tubules of the kidney.