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What should I know before taking oral corticosteroids?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

If you have diabetes, be aware that corticosteroids may decrease glucose tolerance and raise blood sugar.

If you have hypercoagulation disorder (increased blood clotting), note that corticosteroids can increase blood coagulation and cause blood clots.

Corticosteroids can cause or worsen psychiatric problems, including depression, euphoria, mood swings, and personality changes.

Corticosteroids can worsen strongyloides infection.

If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or may be pregnant, note that the health of your baby may be at risk if you take a corticosteroid during the first trimester. It is not known whether corticosteroids are safe for pregnant women in later trimesters.

Oral corticosteroids can limit growth in children. They should be taken at the lowest effective dose. The child's growth should be monitored during treatment.

Corticosteroids can be passed into breast milk. They may not be good options for breastfeeding women.

If you have any of the following conditions, a corticosteroid may not be a good option for you:

  • recent intestinal surgery
  • diverticulitis
  • a peptic ulcer
  • tuberculosis or a positive TB screening test
  • heart failure
  • herpes infection of the eye
  • high blood pressure
  • hypothyroidism
  • impaired kidney function
  • impaired liver function
  • myasthenia gravis
  • osteoporosis
  • ulcerative colitis
  • a recent heart attack 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.