Corticosteroids: Long Term Toxicity

As bad as the short-term side effects are, it is the long-term effects of corticosteroids that can really be lethal.

As bad as the short-term side effects of steroids are it is the complications of long-term steroid administration in the treatment of chronic pain that are truly devastating. Effects include adrenal suppression metabolic changes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, immune suppression, peptic ulcer disease, myopathy, osteoporosis, cataracts and steroid psychosis.

It appears that what is most important in occurrence of these chronic side effects is not the absolute dose, but rather the frequency and regularity with which they are given. It appears that three exposures to even moderately large doses of steroids every 6 months is safe, but that is three total doses, not three doses from your dermatologist, three doses from your rheumatologist, three doses from your pulmonologist, three doses from Schlesinger Pain Centers etc.

  • Adrenocortical Suppression
  • Immunosuppression
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weight Gain
  • Muscle Wasting
  • Cataract Formation


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