Corticosteroids have a long history of use in the United States. Most are now available in generic forms, including:
Corticosteroids can come in the form of:
- eye drops
- lotions, creams, ointments, or gels
- nasal or mouth sprays
A doctor will prescribe different forms of corticosteroids, depending on the problem. For example, they may prescribe a cream, lotion, ointment, or gel to treat skin conditions.
Long-term use of corticosteroids can have side effects that include:
- weight gain
- mood disorders, including depression
- high blood pressure
- liver damage
Long-term corticosteroid use can cause the adrenal glands to stop producing the hormone cortisol. After stopping corticosteroid use, it may take some time for the body to start making cortisol at a normal rate.
Short-term use of corticosteroids is safer, but there are still risks. For example, these drugs can cause changes in sleep, mood, and appetite.
There are also signs that short-term use can have more serious side effects. A 2017 study involving 327,452 adults who received a prescription for corticosteroids found that within 30 days of using them, there was an increase in the risk of sepsis, blood clots, and bone fractures.