Short-term steroid treatment Great Ormond Street Hospital

Because you’re only taking them for a short time, they’re unlikely to cause harmful side effects. If you take your steroid preventer inhaler every day as prescribed, your airways will be less inflamed, and you’ll be less likely to react to your asthma triggers and have symptoms or an asthma attack. However, not all steroids are created equal, and they don’t affect everyone equally.

The absence of cushingoid appearance does not mean that the patient is not at risk of adrenal suppression. However, if a child has cushingoid appearance, he/she should be assumed to have adrenal suppression. The absence of clinical symptoms of adrenal insufficiency does not mean that the patient is not at risk of adrenal suppression. This document provides guidance on management and monitoring of children on long term steroids who at risk of secondary adrenal suppression.

Increased appetite

Steroids (also known as corticosteroids) may be used to treat relapses in multiple sclerosis. Call or WhatsApp our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello. You’re less likely to get side effects from a short course of steroid tablets (less than three weeks).

  • If you need to take both medications, you may be given a medication called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI).
  • Or you may need a longer course of steroids if your asthma is severe or difficult to control.
  • You may be able to have the live shingles vaccination (Zostavax) if you’re on a low dose of steroids.
  • With long-term use of steroids, your legs and shoulder muscles may feel weaker.
  • The table below gives an idea of how often you might need to take steroids.

This means your body has problems making enough of a hormone called cortisol. Having this problem can affect your body’s ability to cope with stress. This might be from an infection, surgery or injury for example.

How do steroids treat asthma?

Most steroids are only available on prescription, but a few (such as some creams or nasal sprays) can be bought from pharmacies and shops. If you have troublesome side effects, don’t stop taking your medication until your doctor says it’s safe to do so. They’re a man-made version of hormones, normally produced by the adrenal glands (2 small glands that sit on top of the kidneys).

To help protect your stomach, you should take your tablets with food. If you have indigestion or pain in your tummy, let your nurse or doctor know. If you feel unwell or need advice, you can call them at any time of the day or night. You may get some of the side effects we mention, but you are unlikely to get all of them.

Methylprednisolone is usually supplied as tablets containing 100mg of the medicine. You will need to take five tablets a day for five days in a row. You need to take all five tablets at one time in the morning with food and they should not be taken as individual tablets throughout the day.


There’s no definite answer to this, as it’s harder to work out the risk to bone health in children and younger people who are taking steroids. Some younger people are advised to take an osteoporosis treatment. This is more likely if your bone density is very low, particularly if you’ve already broken a bone, or if you need long-term, high-dose steroids.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations. There is evidence that steroid drugs may come through into your breast milk. You can make a decision together based on the benefits to you and the possible risks to your baby.

Once you stop taking steroids, your appetite will return to normal and you should gradually lose the excess weight. During the hyper-active periods, people can be more prone to making impulsive and rash decisions. If you’re worried about your behaviour, or that of a relative, talk to your health team. You may become very ill if you catch these, even if you’ve previously been infected.