Article Steroids System
Corticosteroids, more often known as steroids, are an anti-inflammatory medicine prescribed for a wide range of conditions.
Corticosteroids are available in different forms including:
tablets (oral steroids)
injections – which can be into blood vessels, joints or muscles
inhalers, such as mouth or nasal sprays
lotions, gels or creams (topical steroids)
This section is about oral, inhaled and injected corticosteroids.
Read more about topical corticosteroids (steroid lotions, gels and creams).
What are corticosteroids used for?
Corticosteroids are mainly used to relieve inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the immune system (the body’s natural defence against infection and illness) causes part of the body to become swollen, red and filled with fluid in response to an infection.
Inflammation is helpful in preventing the spread of infection. However, in some health conditions the immune system triggers inflammation even though no infection is present. These are known as autoimmune conditions and include:
rheumatoid arthritis – where the immune system causes the joints to become inflamed
lupus – where inflammation can occur in both the joints and the skin
Sometimes, the immune system reacts to harmless substances (such as pollen), which happens when people have allergic conditions such as asthma.
Inflammation is potentially dangerous if it occurs in the lungs or airways. Corticosteroids are routinely used to treat severe flare-ups of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Read more about the uses of corticosteroids and how corticosteroids work.
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