Steroids-“when they’re good, they’re very, very good; but when they’re bad, they’re horrid”

 

I used to be skinny, so skinny, that jokes followed me around. Yep, people said, “she’s like a McDonald’s hamburger; so skinny, she only has one side;” that sort of thing. Then I was diagnosed with lupus and all that changed Why?

Meds commonly used for autoimmune symptoms are often non-steroidal anti-inflammatories drugs or NSAIDs. While they don’t pack on the pounds, if symptoms worsen and other meds which include  prednisone, Decadron™ or Solu-Medrol™ are used, watch the scales for weight gain which can increase the problems one has with ‘carting around’ extra weight.

It is known that steroids cause fluid retention and an increased appetite; both of which will increase weight rapidly. All of a sudden eating that second piece of pie is completely normal behavior! Another way is theorized: interference with fat metabolism and a redistribution of body fat.

But, steroid medications do have a good effect, one so good that having the moon face and other side effects of steroids is sometimes worth the side effects. Steroids are so good at relieving the inflammation which causes the discomfort and some of the life-threatening side effects from autoimmune disease (for example, the joint pain from RA) or the inflammation of the lung lining: pleurisy. Without them there would be more pain and aches.

Steroids also play a huge role in the treatment of asthma. The asthmatic would also have to make the choice to suffer the side effects of steroids or to breathe. Kind of an untenable choice, don’t you think? But there is an increased risk of osteoporosis due to their effects on the bones. 

Also, because there is redistributing of fat, you don’t have to take steroids for autoimmunity. Ashley Judd took high dose of steroids for a sinus infection and as beautiful as she is, you can see the impact of steroids on her face.

But there are ‘new kids on the block’ which don’t have the risk/side effects of steroids; Rituxan™, methotrexate™, Benlysta™ and a host of others.

 

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2 thoughts on “Steroids-“when they’re good, they’re very, very good; but when they’re bad, they’re horrid”

  1. I have an autoimmune blood disorder called ITP and Prednisone is the first treatment usually prescribed. Many ITPers refer to it as ‘the devil’s tic-tacs’ since the side effects sometimes outweigh the benefits. There are other treatments (Rituxan, IVIg, Nplate, etc) but Prednisone was the only one that worked for me. I didn’t like the moonface, insatiable appetite, and especially the cataracts, but it was better than having zero platelets!

    • Hi, I have ITP and have undergone NO treatment. My platelets have gone to 52K but they always come back up-sometimes within days. It is very possible that I should have had treatment, and I’m sure my rheumie or hematologist will grab the reins should that happen, but in 30+ years, no one has indicated a need. Anyway, they always pop right back up to 2500K. Annie

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