Steroids and IBD: Not Recommended For Long-Term Treatment

IBD is a chronic condition with a relapsing and remitting course. It often requires long-term immune suppressive or anti-inflammatory medications to keep the disease in check. Despite the widespread use of newer and better medications that keep the disease at bay, disease flares still occur.

These flares are often treated with steroids, such as prednisone. These steroids are not the same as anabolic steroids, which are typically used by athletes. Even though steroids work well at suppressing inflammation in the short term, they have a lot of side effects and are not recommended for long-term use. Steroids and IBD are not the perfect mix; they can cause a great number of side effects, which, if used long-term, could cause a patient severe trauma and complications. Some of these side effects that may occur are:

  • Insomnia
  • Acne
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Elevated blood sugar levels
  • Joint pain
  • Bone loss
  • Stretch marks
  • “Buffalo Hump” forming on back
  • Weight gain
  • Fragile skin

In addition to these side effects, they carry an increased risk of infections, particularly gastrointestinal infections, such as clostridium difficile (CDF) and cytomegalovirus (CMV), among others.  These infections may mimic symptoms of an IBD flare and the flu. Prompt recognition of these infections is important for timely symptom control.

If you are wondering what options are available to help reduce flares and promote a healthy lifestyle with IBD, consider asking your doctor about these natural alternative treatments.