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The Short Term Side Effects of Steroids

author image Nicole Van Hoey
Nicole Van Hoey is a pharmacist and medical writer/editor in Washington, D.C. She has worked extensively on National Institutes of Health and trade pharmacy publications and is a contributing textbook writer on topics in infectious disease, nutrition and more. Van Hoey currently enjoys applying her drug information expertise to writings on women's health, complementary medicine and pediatrics.
The Short Term Side Effects of Steroids
Whether given orally or as an injected drug, corticosteroids mimic the body's natural steroids to reduce inflammation from many causes.

Steroids are a type of hormone produced by the body to contribute to cell function, muscle and tissue building, and stress and growth regulation. Corticosteroids are a type of manufactured prescription drug product given to mimic or enhance the effects of the body's natural steroids. Steroids are given to reduce swelling in many conditions and body areas, to reduce cell reactions to stressful conditions, and to reduce immune system hyperactivity. Some common examples are prednisone and hydrocortisone.

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Increased Pressures

Even short-term (i.e., less than one month) use of steroids can accentuate the risk of high blood pressure and increased pressure in the eye, or glaucoma, especially in people who are already at risk for these diseases. Steroids increase fluid levels in the body and affect the size of blood vessels through anti-inflammatory actions; both of these effects may contribute to high blood pressure and glaucoma risks.

Weight Gain

Steroid use even for less than one month may cause increased bloating and fluid retention. In addition, increased fat retention, especially in the stomach, neck and facial areas, is possible. Combined with the added side effect of increased appetite, both of these effects can result in increased weight gain with short-term steroid use.

Psychological Changes

Steroid use can cause hormonal changes in addition to the physical side effects. One result is that psychological side effects are also possible with short-term steroid use. Some common examples of these side effects are trouble sleeping, energy changes (either reduced energy or hyperactivity) and noticeable mood changes.

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