Because steroids are hormones, patients who use them for long periods of time must be carefully monitored. The most common side effects are: weight gain; thinning of the skin; upset stomach; muscle weakness in the thighs, shoulders, and neck; “masking” or hiding a fever; mood swings; insomnia; pneumonia; and increased blood sugar levels (especially in patients with diabetes). Steroids can also interact with some seizure medications, either raising or lowering the seizure medicine levels in the blood, which can affect their effectiveness. Your doctor can explain other side effects that may occur with steroid use.
The adverse effects of corticosteroids in pediatric patients are similar to those in adults (see ADVERSE REACTIONS ). Like adults, pediatric patients should be carefully observed with frequent measurements of blood pressure, weight, height, intraocular pressure, and clinical evaluation for the presence of infection, psychosocial disturbances, thromboembolism, peptic ulcers, cataracts, and osteoporosis. Pediatric patients who are treated with corticosteroids by any route, including systemically administered corticosteroids, may experience a decrease in their growth velocity. This negative impact of corticosteroids on growth has been observed at low systemic doses and in the absence of laboratory evidence of HPA axis suppression (., cosyntropen stimulation and basal cortisol plasma levels). Growth velocity may therefore be a more sensitive indicator of systemic corticosteroid exposure in pediatric patients treated with corticosteroids should be monitored, and the potential growth effects of prolonged treatment should be weighed against clinical benefits obtained and the availability of treatment alternatives. In order to minimize the potential growth effects of corticosteroids, pediatric patients should be titrated to the lowest effective dose.