Steroid treatments

Steroids are a class of drugs that have been proven to be of tremendous benefit to people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Their primary use in treating inflammatory bowel disease is to decrease the effects of the inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. 

Side effects are common with this type of medication. Below is a partial list of those most commonly experience; many of these will go away after steroid use has ceased:

Cosmetic side effects:

  • Acne
  • Redness of the face
  • “Chubby cheeks”
  • A tendency to bruise easily
  • Fluid retention and weight gain

Effects on your metabolism:

  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Bone loss
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased susceptibility to infections

Psychological side effects:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Feeling energized

Rare side effects, but sometimes experienced:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Psychosis
  • Osteonecrosis (reduced blood flow to the joints in your body, especially the hip)

Prolonged use of steroids can result in:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Cataracts
  • High blood pressure
  • Steroid-induced diabetes

Because the use of steroids causes your natural production of cortisol to decrease, you should never stop taking them suddenly. If you do, you may experience nausea, fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness or diarrhea. A gradual tapering off of the dosage is necessary to give your body time to ramp up its own production of cortisol.

It’s important to let others on the healthcare team know that you are on steroids. Remind them that you are taking steroids and consider wearing a medical alert bracelet stating their use.

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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