Oral Corticosteroids

Oral corticosteroids are medicines used to decrease inflammation in the body. They are often used to treat a specific area of the body. However, their effects occur throughout the body (systemic). These medicines are used to treat conditions including: skin problems, asthma, allergies, cancer-like conditions, and arthritis. Oral corticosteroids should only be taken if prescribed to you by a caregiver. Doses vary from person to person. It may be dangerous to take a prescription that is dosed for someone else. Toward the end of a prescription, the dose is often gradually decreased.


Many athletes take these medicines to decrease inflammation in the body. Certain oral corticosteroids may have performance enhancing (ergogenic) effects. Some athletes take them for this reason, but the effects are limited.


  • Rash.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Increased urination.

  • Unusual thirst.

  • Mood changes.

  • Headache.

  • Indigestion.

  • Increased appetite.

  • Restlessness.

  • Elevated glucose in persons with diabetes.


Oral steroids can be taken through the mouth, in pill or liquid form. The same type of medicines also come in injectable form, for use in a specific part of the body (localized). Dosing varies from person to person. Doses may be long or short-acting. Toward the end of a prescription, doses are often gradually decreased (tapered).


Corticosteroids of any kind should never be taken without a written prescription and supervision from a caregiver, or without caregiver follow-up. Follow your caregiver's prescription closely. Do not miss a dose or take extra doses. More is not better. If your caregiver has prescribed tapering, follow his or her instructions. Corticosteroids have multiple negative interactions with other drugs. Tell your caregiver about any drugs you are taking. Do not take any new drugs without asking your caregiver. If you develop a serious injury or illness during your prescription, notify your caregiver.