Corticosteroids are a specific class of drugs that are used to lower inflammation within the body and can also reduce immune system activity. These medications ease swelling, irritation from itching, redness and allergic reactions. Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed to treat certain types of diseases, including asthma, arthritis, lupus and certain allergies. Cortisol is the natural hormone the body’s adrenal glands produce. Corticosteroid drugs resemble this hormone, which the body needs to maintain optimal health. Cortisol plays a significant role in how the body functions overall, from the way metabolism works, the way the immune system functions and how the body handles stress.
Types Of Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids are either localized or systematic. Localized corticosteroids target a certain area of the body and are often applied topically via skin cream or ointment, eye drops, ear drops, intranasal sprays or inhalers. Systemic corticosteroids navigate through the blood to reach more areas of the body. They are often delivered through oral medications or by injection directly into a muscle or joint.
When Are Corticosteroids Prescribed?
Doctors may additionally prescribe corticosteroids for various reasons, including the following:
- Addison’s Disease: When the body is unable to produce a sufficient amount of cortisol, it can develop what is known as Addison’s Disease. Corticosteroids can help correct the levels of cortisol that the body isn’t producing.
- Organ Transplants: Corticosteroids suppress the immune system, which can reduce the chances of organ failure or rejection.
- Inflammation: In the event where inflammation in the body causes damage to the organs, corticosteroids can make a significant difference.
- Autoimmune Disease: When the immune system is unable to operate properly and inflammation occurs, corticosteroids can reduce it by affecting how white blood cells function.
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