Steroids: A guide for patients with breast cancer University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust

People on high doses develop a risk similar to those with diabetes. Steroids are drugs that are designed to act like the body’s natural hormones, the ones that regulate and control how a human develops and functions. There are two types of steroids – anabolic steroids and corticosteroids. Steroids are hormones which are naturally found in the body and which are produced by small organs in the tummy (abdomen) called the adrenal glands. Steroids, such as cortisone, have a huge number of functions in all the cells of the body – they are required for life.

  • You usually take steroid tablets or liquids at set times each day for a number of days or weeks.
  • Your fingers, feet and ankles may swell because of a buildup of fluid, although this is more common in long term use.
  • This can help treat autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, which are caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking the body.
  • Your doctor may advise carrying it for up to a year after your steroid treatment has ended.

This information is about steroids that you take by mouth or as an injection. Steroids also come in other forms, such as inhalers, eye drops or creams. If you are having steroids in these ways, your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can give you more information. Call or WhatsApp our Helpline for support with your condition.

What are the side-effects of steroids in long term use?

Steroids are a man-made version of chemicals, known as hormones, that are made naturally in the human body. Steroids are designed to act like these hormones to reduce inflammation. Your treatment plan is tailored specifically to you and your individual situation.

  • Most steroids are only available on prescription, but a few (such as some creams or nasal sprays) can be bought from pharmacies and shops.
  • Your baby will be monitored for this and offered treatment if needed.
  • These subtle chemical differences already imply a huge difference in some steroids.

They’re also prescribed to some people with COPD who get regular flare-ups, particularly when COPD has asthma-like features, or if they have asthma alongside their COPD. If you’ve been prescribed a MART inhaler (Maintenance and Reliever Therapy) you will be prescribed one inhaler to work as a preventer and a reliever. It opens up the airways and also gives a dose of preventer medicine to deal with inflammation. Cancer drugs can interact with medicines, herbal products, and some food and drinks.

A Long Term Relationship?

If you are going to take them, it’s important to know the risks, and monitor yourself. Please read this information sheet from GOSH alongside the patient information leaflet (PIL) provided by the manufacturer. If you do not have a copy of the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet please talk to your pharmacist. A few products do not have a marketing authorisation (licence) as a medicine and therefore there is no PIL. These side effects tend to occur only after long-term use or with high doses. It is important to take steroids exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

  • It’s important that you do not just stop taking steroids without seeking advice as this can lead to adrenal crisis.
  • They will continue to prescribe all your medication, so please ensure you inform them if you need any repeat prescriptions.
  • This is because when you’re on high doses of steroids your body may stop producing enough of its own natural steroids to help illness or injury.
  • Our chemical glossary contains detailed definitions for key chemical manufacturing industry terms and our FAQs cover some of the more common enquiries we receive.

For those who may be in contact with chickenpox or another infectious disease, or who have become ill with an infection, it is important to speak to your doctor as soon as possible for advice. Oral fluid and urine drug testing are known as ‘narrow-window’ forms of testing and can be used to detect drug use from 30 minutes after consumption, up to a few weeks. How a person feels and behaves after using steroids can vary, depending on the person. Steroids are used in different ways, depending on the type of drug and which condition(s) they are being used to treat. Anabolic steroids, the most commonly misused steroids, are available as a solution for injection, as well as in tablet, cream and gel form.

How long will I take steroids for?

If you want to check that your medicines are safe to take with your medication, ask your Pharmacist or GP. There is less chance of this happening with steroid injections or sprays. However, it can occasionally happen if they’re used at high doses and for a long time.

Injection into a vein or muscle

Steroids are prescription-only drugs controlled by the Medicines Act. Serious health problems are more likely the longer you take steroids and the bigger the dose. Users can experience mood changes, irritability and aggression (‘roid rage’). Coming off steroids can lead to depression and for some men possibly thoughts of suicide.

This condition makes it more likely that you’ll fracture your bones, sometimes after very minor falls or bumps. In children and teenagers, steroids can sometimes cause growth to slow down, so they’ll need to have their height checked regularly. If growth is slowed, they might be referred to a specialist doctor for advice. You won’t be able to have steroid creams or gels if you have an infection that affects your skin.

All of these steroid-induced side-effects are reversible and diminish when the dose of steroid is decreased or stopped. All of these steroid-induced side effects are reversible and diminish when the dose of steroid is decreased or stopped. The body’s ability to produce strong, dense bones is a balancing act between the process that builds up bone, and the process that breaks it down.

They’re mainly used for asthma, but can sometimes be helpful for people with COPD, particularly those who have asthma as well. Steroids can sometimes be used to treat other medical and lung conditions too. You might have blood tests during cancer treatment to check for this. Steroids are a man-made version of hormones normally produced by the adrenal glands, two small glands found above the kidneys. If a woman needs to take steroid tablets whilst she is breastfeeding, prednisolone is usually recommended. Steroid injections, inhalers and sprays aren’t thought to pose a risk to babies being breastfed.

Common questions about steroids and osteoporosis

I felt so bloated and heavy from the steroids, I didn’t recognise myself anymore. Steroids are only likely to be given by injection when you’re in hospital or if you’re unable to take tablets by mouth. The colour and dosage of the tablet/medicine will depend on which one you’ve been prescribed. Brain cells in and around a tumour, or the area treated by surgery or radiotherapy, can swell and put pressure on surrounding tissues. Please do not hesitate to contact any of the numbers below if you have any questions or concerns regarding your steroids or if you wish to discuss any aspect of your neurosurgical care. This area is to help you find your way around groups, services, venues and events for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.