Steroids and the Alternatives.

      The subject of this article is Steroids and The Alternatives. We all know when the Doctor says you are flaring and that usually means Prednisone. Prednisone is often the first line of defense when you are flaring, because it works very well in controlling the inflammation in the intestines. Although, it is used for flares it comes with some side effects that are pretty tough on the body, I’m sure most of you know the feeling. I will list why it is prescribed and what it is used for, and then the symptoms of prednisone. I will start with the most common to the less common ones, and then discuss those. I will go into details of alternatives to steroids. A lot of this information you guys will know, but for those who do not they can refer to it.

Prednisone is actually prescribed for many reasons and other disease such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, asthma, low corticosteroid levels and many more. It is used in autoimmune diseases to lower inflammation levels, and it also weakens the immune system so that it can stop overreacting and attacking the body. The main reason it is used for Inflammatory Bowel Disease is because of the affect it has on the immune system and inflammation. Prednisone is great in the way that it helps control the disease, but it can be awful due to the horrible side effects.
Now lets list some side effects and discuss them. Some I may not can find why some of these happen but will post links for you.

1.) The Moon Face as we call it. Because prednisone changes the way fat is spread around the body, this is why we get the dreaded moon face.

2.) Body acne or rash. Some people experience a full body rash like myself when I was on prednisone I had one from head to toe literally, but not to worry the doctor can prescribe you medicine to help with it.

3.) Trouble sleeping or Insomnia. It is said most people experience this because they take it to late in the day.

4.) EXTREME mood changes. One minute you are are happy the next you want to punch somebody, it’s just a symptom of steroids in general. A lot of times called Roid Rage.

5.) Weight gain. This goes hand in hand with the moon face because of how prednisone changes how body weight is distributed.

6.) Avascular Necrosis. I know a lot of people do not know about this disease and it comes from prednisone. It is caused by lack of blood flow to a particular joint and the bone starts to die. I have it in my hips which have now been replaced. I never heard of it until diagnosis so please keep an eye on the joints.It is very rare and some people who have been on steroids for many years never develop AVN, but it is important to know of it and make sure you and your doctor keep an eye on your bones during and after prednisone use.

7.) Slow healing of cuts or bruises. Since prednisone lowers the immune system this can cause slow healing.

8.) Decreased Sexual Desire- A main reason is due to the next symptom extreme tiredness or fatigued. This will cause decreased libido in men and women. Also having IBD period will cause this because fatigue is a symptom of IBD.

9.) Extreme Tiredness

10.) Eye problems – long term use can cause glaucoma or cataracts.

11.) Irregular or absent menstrual cycle for females 

12.) Increased Sweating – This was one of the worst for me, having to wake up and change clothes because of sweat.

13.) Osteoporosis- This is a big one to get, prednisone thins out the bones and causes a lot of bone issues like joint pain and arthritis.

14.) Depression

    There are a few more symptoms not listed, but I posted the articles below. Also, not everyone gets all of these symptoms at once, and some may never show up at all. It is always good to discuss the symptoms with your doctor before you start prednisone if you are unsure of what they are, and also contact them if any of these symptoms start showing up that are making you so sick you can’t stand it. Being informed about the symptoms and drug before hand can prepare you for what might come and to let you know whether you should immediately call your doctor.

Now lets discuss some alternatives to Prednisone. One of the substitutes is a drug called Entocort for Crohn’s and Uceris for UC. The side effects are not quite as bad or severe, which is amazing compared to prednisone. Entocort does not work as fast as prednisone, but it is a great alternative to prednisone. Entocort works directly in the gut as well, whereas prednisone is used to decrease inflammation everywhere. There is some information about Tumeric and it might stimulate some natural production of corticosteroids in the body and is an anti-inflammatory. This should be discussed with your physician before trying.

If you have been on steroids for a while it is harder to get off of them. They start tapering you off of prednisone little by little, but there are also withdrawals and this makes it longer to wean off because some people get really sick. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include muscle soreness, joint pain, fatigue and depression. It can be hard
to go through, but you cannot just stop the medicine you must wean off. Your physician will help you go through the weaning period so that it is not as bad.

Prednisone can be an awful drug to be on, but it can also be a lifesaving drug. You have to discuss whether or not the pros outweigh the cons, and be educated up front about what you are putting into your body. A lot of people have no idea that prednisone can cause so many symptoms and also other diseases that you may have to deal with for the rest of your life. So a decision always has to be made when starting prednisone. Is it worth it?

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