NHS 111 Wales Health A-Z : Steroids

NHS 111 Wales Health A-Z : Steroids

If you’re having an operation, you might need to stop your steroids. It’s important that you don’t stop taking steroids without speaking to the person treating you first. Usually inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to infection or bacteria. Your immune system produces extra fluid to fight infections or bacteria, which causes swelling, redness and heat in the affected area.

  • The person treating you will make sure you’re on the lowest possible dose to keep your condition under control.
  • Information about steroid injections is covered on a different page.
  • The information on this page is about steroids used in cancer treatment.
  • If you have epilepsy this could become worse when taking steroids.
  • You should contact your advice line urgently if you think you have an infection.

Some steroid tablets are coated to help reduce irritation. If you have indigestion or pain in your tummy, let your nurse or doctor know. They can prescribe drugs to help reduce stomach irritation. Your nurse will give you telephone numbers for the hospital. If you feel unwell or need advice, you can call them at any time of the day or night. Save these numbers in your phone or keep them somewhere safe.


For example, if you have an upset stomach after taking steroids, your GP may suggest taking the tablet with meals or after food. It’s important to take your steroid preventer inhaler every day, even if you feel well. Steroid inhalers are usually prescribed to people with asthma. 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.

Taking too many steroid tablets over a long period can make you more likely to get side effects. If you have troublesome side effects, don’t stop taking your medication until your doctor says it’s safe to do so. Steroid tablets that are taken for a short period of time are unlikely to cause side effects. Steroids that are injected into a blood vessel (intravenous steroids) may cause more widespread side effects. Steroid injections are often only given at intervals of at least 6 weeks. A maximum of 3 injections into one area is usually recommended.

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Some other skin problems, such as rosacea, acne and ulcers, can be made worse by steroid creams so you might not be able to take them if you have any of these conditions. They’re also known as corticosteroids, and are different to anabolic steroids used by bodybuilders and athletes. Many sporting organisations have banned the use of certain steroids. These organisations carry out tests for the banned steroids.

They’re different from the anabolic steroids used by athletes and body builders to improve their performance. It’s normally best to take steroid tablets with or soon after a meal – usually breakfast – because this can stop them irritating your stomach. If you need to take both medications, you may be given a medication called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a group of commonly used painkillers. The HIV medication may increase the level of corticosteroid in your body. This might increase your risk of experiencing side effects.

This means that supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Call or WhatsApp our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello. But if you’re taking high doses for a long time, you may be at risk of some of the same side effects as steroid tablets. Your steroid preventer inhaler is unlikely to cause side effects, especially if you’re using your inhaler correctly. If you’re using a steroid inhaler these medicines act directly on the airways, and generally have very few side effects.


You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened. This drug can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Tell your doctor straight away if you have sudden and severe pain in your tummy (abdomen). Tell your healthcare team if you keep getting headaches. You might have weaker bones due to bone loss (osteoporosis). This can increase your risk of breaking (fracturing) bones.

What do steroids do?

You have regular blood tests to check for any changes in the way your liver is working. A low level of potassium in the blood is called hypokalaemia. You might have blood tests during cancer treatment to check for this.

Regular exercise, especially things that involve your bones carrying the weight of your body, such as walking, can also help to reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis. Taking steroid tablets for a long time can make you more likely to get infections. If you feel feverish or unwell, or develop any new symptoms after starting steroids, it’s important to tell your doctor or rheumatology nurse.


Take them exactly as your doctor, nurse or pharmacist explains. Do not stop taking them without https://foromundial.omcpl.org/sin-categoria/strombaject-50-cycle-boosting-performance-and/ talking to your doctor first. This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb.

NHS Steroid Emergency Card (red card)

Tell your doctor or nurse if you have headaches, nosebleeds, blurred or double vision or shortness of breath. If you have diabetes already, you might need to check your blood sugar levels more often than usual. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood.