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Corticosteroids are a very popular and effective type of medication, essentially close copies of cortisol, a hormone that our adrenal glands produces naturally. As most drugs, they have their good sides and their bad sides.

For example, they can cause several serious side effects, and have been abused for many years by top athletes all around the globe. On the other hand corticosteroid medications have a great potential in the treatment of a variety of conditions, from rashes to lupus to asthma.

The corticosteroid family of medications is large, but the most commonly used ones are:

  1. Prednisolone (Prelone®)
  2. Cortisone (Cortone®)
  3. Dexamethasone (Decadron Betamethasone (Celestone®))
  4. Budesonide (Entocort® EC)
  5. Hydrocortisone (Cortef®)
  6. Methylprednisolone (Medrol®)
  7. Prednisone (Deltasone®)
  8. Triamcinolone (Kenacort®, Kenalog®)

Mechanism of corticosteroid action

Steroids mimic the effects of cortisone and hydrocortisone, two hormones that our body produces naturally in our adrenal glands.

These hormones help control three important aspects of our health:

  • Stress of illness and injury
  • Immune function
  • Inflammation

So by taking corticosteroids, we in fact duplicate the effects of our body's natural steroids.

The medications are most commonly used in situations where our body’s inflammation response is too strong. Steroids can reduce the symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma. When inflammation threatens to damage critical body organs, steroids can save a patient’s life. Also, these medications can significantly reduce kidney inflammation which could lead to kidney failure. In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, corticosteroids can provide significant relief from pain and stiffness in joints!
The corticosteroid’s mechanism of action is still not fully understood; experts suggest that they might deactivate a protein associated with inflammation. 

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