Oral Steroids

Tablet medication in a tub

Oral corticosteroids:

  • Prednisolone (Predsolone™) - most commonly used oral corticosteroid.
  • Dexamethasone (Dexmethsone™)

Side effects

Side effects of oral steroids are dose related or more pronounced in patients with co-morbidities (e.g. diabetes, osteopenia -see below) or COPD. People receiving long-term oral corticosteroids (more than 3 weeks duration) and those needing frequent courses (3 or 4 per year) are at risk of systemic side effects.

Possible side effects include:

  • Endocrine - adrenal insufficiency, weight gain, and diabetes mellitus (new-onset, or worsening of blood glucose control in existing diabetes mellitus).
  • Gastrointestinal - peptic ulceration, dyspepsia, abdominal distension (swelling).
  • Psychiatric - confusion, irritability, euphoria, poor sleep patterns.
  • Musculoskeletal - osteoporosis and proximal muscle wasting.
  • Ophthalmic – glaucoma, cataract, blurred vision.
  • Cardiovascular – hypertension.
  • Skin - thinning of the skin, easy bruising and delayed wound healing.
  • Osteopenia - lower bone density than normal which can be a precursor to osteoporosis.