What are they?
Corticosteroids are prescription medicines that provide relief of inflammation. They provide pain relief by reducing swelling, itching, redness, and allergic reactions. They work best for arthritis, cancer pain, and surgical pain, especially when there is inflammation.

Active Ingredients (Common Brands)
Betamethasone (Celestone), cortisone (Cortone Acetate), dexamethasone (Decadron), prednisolone (Predalone 50), and prednisone (Orasone)

Common Side Effects
Increased appetite, indigestion, restlessness, nervousness, and trouble sleeping

Safe Use
Since steroids may lower your immune function, infections may be harder to treat. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you develop symptoms of another infection such as fever, difficulty breathing, or pain in your kidneys or bladder. To prevent stomach problems, take with food. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages while taking steroids.

Hidden Benefits

Not Recommended For
People with active tuberculosis, fungal infections, herpes infection of the eyes, or peptic ulcer disease

Special Hints
Since side effects occur with prolonged use of corticosteroids, avoid using these medications for long periods of time. Sometimes steroids can be taken every other day or at varying doses to lessen side effects. Check with your doctor to see if this is right for you. Avoid people with influenza, chickenpox, measles or who take recently taken an oral polio vaccine. While your immunity is compromised by the steroids, these people could easily pass these illness on to you, even if you already had them once.