Synonyms: Steriods

Medical Specialties: Allergy/immunology, Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

Corticosteroids are synthetic compounds that produce physiological effects similar to the chemicals produced by the human adrenal cortex. Corticosteroids decrease the inflammatory process and the immune system response, which may have a therapeutic effect on a variety of diseases. 

In Our Own Words

Corticosteroids are a type of medication made to induce some of the same effects as the hormone, cortisol, which is produced naturally by the human adrenal gland. These medications are anti-inflammatory, meaning they reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals and decrease certain activities in immune cells. Although inflammation is part of the body’s natural system of defenses, it can also be excessive and lead to tissue injury.

Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat a variety of medical conditions that involve destructive inflammation like arthritis, asthma and lupus.   

Relevant Conditions
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Crohn’s disease
Common Types
  • Prednisone
  • Cortisone
  • Methylprednisolone
Side Effects
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Mood swings
  • High blood pressure
Share this article
  • The Cleveland Clinic. Health Library. Accessed July 2013.
  • Harvard Medical School. Medical Dictionary of Health Terms. Harvard Health publications. Accessed July 2013.
  • The John Hopkins Lupus Center. Steroids. Accessed July 2013.
  • Gardenhire, Douglas S. EdD(C) RRT. Rau’s Respiratory Care Pharmacology. Mosby 2011. Accessed July 2013.
  • The Cleveland Clinic. Health Library. Accessed July 2013.
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