Dr Christophe Hsu – dermatologist. Geneva, Switzerland
Your doctor has just prescribed an oral steroid for you.
What are steroids used for?
Steroids are similar to the natural hormones produced in the body and are often used to
supplement them to help your body fight against certain illness. They are used to relieve swelling, redness and itch and to treat a number of medical problems such as severe allergies or skin problems, asthma, arthritis, or other diseases as determined by your doctor. his medicine has been prescribed for your current medical condition only and should not be given to other people or used for other problems.
How should I take steroids?
- Steroids come in the form of tablets. Take it as directed by your doctor.
- Take this medicine after food to reduce stomach upset.
- If you are taking this medicine at regular daily intervals on a long term basis, take the tablets at the same time each day so that it becomes a habit.
- Do not stop taking this medicine unless directed by your doctor. Your doctor may want to reduce the amount you are taking gradually before stopping completely.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
This depends on the dosing schedule prescribed for you.
a) ‘Every other day’ dosing:
If you remember it on the same morning, take it as soon as you remember it. Then resume your regular dosing schedule. If you remember it much later in the day, take it the following morning. Then stop taking your medicine for a day and start your regular dosing schedule again.
b) ‘Once a day’ dosing:
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it and then resume your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed one. If you do not remember until the next day, take only your regular dose.
c) ‘Several times a day’ dosing:
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, take double your next dose. Then resume your regular dosing schedule.
What other effects may steroids cause?
If you are taking this medicine for short periods of time, side effects are uncommon. If any of the following effects persist or are severe, consult your doctor:-
- Poor or blurred vision
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
If you are on long term treatment, consult your doctor if any of these additional effects occur:-
- Bloody, black stools or severe stomach ache
- Rounding/swelling of the face
- Swelling of the feet or legs
- Wounds that will not heal
- Persistent sore throat or fever
What precautions should I take?
- Before taking this medicine, check with your doctor if you are pregnant, intending to conceive or are breastfeeding
- Inform your doctor of any other medications you are taking.
- Avoid taking alcohol or products containing aspirin together with this medicine. This combination can cause stomach problems.
- While on long term steroid treatment, your body resistance to infection may be temporarily suppressed. You must inform your doctor.
- before you have any immunisation
- before you undergo any kind of surgery, have skin tests or
- if you get a serious infection or injury
- If your doctor has put you on a low salt diet, follow his dietary instructions strictly. This is usually to prevent excessive water retention.
- Inform your doctor if your condition worsens or if you are a diabetic and notice changes in your blood sugar level.
- Bruising may occur more easily while you are taking this medicine. Protect yourself from all injuries.
- When you are on oral steroids keep to your appointments regularly so that your doctor can monitor your response and adjust your treatment accordingly.
How should I store steroids?
Store this medicine away from heat and direct sunlight, in a cool, dry place out of reach of children.
Do not keep this medicine with other medications in the same container. Keep each medicine separately in labelled container. Keep each medicine separately in labelled containers.
When in doubt, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Dr Christophe HSU – dermatologist. Geneva, Switzerland
National Skin Centre. Singapore