Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
How to Stop Safely
What are steroid
Steroids are medicines with very strong
anti-inflammatory effects. They can reduce inflammation (redness, swelling and
soreness). Steroids are helpful for many conditions, such as asthma and
arthritis. They come in pills, sprays, creams and ointments. The creams and
ointments can help some skin conditions, such as eczema and contact dermatitis.
Are steroid medicines
Steroids are very effective and lifesaving
medicines, but they can cause side effects if they are taken for a long time.
These side effects include thin skin, a higher blood sugar level and weakened
bones. Because of these side effects, steroids are usually used only for a short
Your body naturally makes steroids all by
itself. When you use steroid pills, sprays or creams, your body may stop making
its own steroids. When you're under stress--caused by infections or surgery, for
example--your body would normally make extra steroids. But if you have been
taking steroids for a long time, your body may not be able to make enough
steroids in times of stress. At these times, you may have to take more steroid
What happens when my steroid
medicine is reduced?
As your steroid medicine is reduced (tapered),
your body must begin to make more steroids on its own. This may take a few weeks
or even a few months. While your body is getting used to making its own
steroids, you may feel dizzy, lightheaded or tired, or have stomach pain. These
problems are sometimes called steroid withdrawal symptoms. If you have any of
these symptoms or notice anything unusual while your steroid medicine is being
reduced, tell your doctor right away.
How will my steroid medicine be
The amount of steroids you take is reduced
little by little. Your doctor will give you a schedule to follow for taking the
medicine. It is very important that you follow this schedule carefully.
If it's time to stop taking steroids after
you've been taking them for a long time, your doctor may want to do a simple
blood test to see when you can stop the medicine completely. Even when the
medicine is stopped, your body may be slow in making the extra steroids that you
need in times of stress. At these times, your doctor may want you to continue or
restart your steroid medicines for a short time until the stressful time
What can I do to prevent steroid
- Never stop taking your steroid medicine unless
your doctor tells you to.
- Don't take any other medicines at the same time
as steroids, including over-the-counter drugs, without telling your doctor
- Consider buying a Medic-Alert bracelet to wear
all the time. If you become unconscious for some reason, this bracelet will tell
emergency health workers that you are taking steroids. Always tell health care
workers that you are taking steroid medicine.
- If you feel sick while your steroid medicine is
being reduced, tell your doctor right away.