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Steroids - Information and support - Macmillan Cancer Support
Steroids are substances that you make naturally in your body. They can be replicated and made in the lab to help treat certain side effects or symptoms, as well as increase the efficacy of some chemotherapies. Steroids play important roles in several different mechanisms throughout the body, including fight and flight stress and immune responses.
People will often think of an Arnold Schwarzenegger-style figure when hearing the term steroids. Due to their side-effects and the legalities behind them, it is unlikely you will be prescribed anabolic steroids. The steroids used in the cancer setting are called corticosteroids.
Common steroids prescribed in the cancer setting are:. Corticosteroids, or just steroids, can be prescribed for a wide-range of conditions. Steroids help reduce inflammation and are a great sidekick to some chemotherapy regimes.
Steroids prescribed during cancer treatment, are usually prescribed for a period of time. You may start experiencing symptoms relating to steroids but may not have been told about them. Steroids can cause the following side effects:. Many of these side effects are manageable and can be lessened if known about beforehand. For example, taking steroids in the morning, and not the before bed can reduce insomnia and the feeling of being jittery at nighttime. People that have stomach ulcers or acid reflux may experience stomach cramps or find their ulcers worsening once on steroids.
Medications such as proton pump inhibitors can be prescribed to help reduce acidity and the stomach issues caused by steroids. There is an opinion that people undergoing chemo, or other cancer treatments lose weight, and for many this is true.
But now, with the advances in anti-nausea medications and steroids, people often find themselves putting on weight. Weight gain for some people can be distressing; it can lead to low self-esteem and confidence. And this is very important. Steroids can also cause you to retain water. Fluid retention can make you look puffy in your face. Steroids can result in lowering your immunity and increasing your risk to infection. It is important that when undergoing cancer treatment that includes steroids, to seek advice immediately if you become unwell or start developing fever like symptoms.
You may feel silly, or over concerned, but your doctor and nurse would prefer you to be over cautious and come in immediately at the first sign of infection and be treated properly, then wait and become more unwell.
Steroids can induce diabetes in some people. Although a rare side effect, if not picked up quickly can be dangerous for your health.
Your nurse will be checking your blood sugar levels regularly the test is a small finger prick , but contact your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms:. Live Better With recommends the following products to help with the side effects associated with steroids:. Defiant Beauty Smooth Skin Balm. Steroids can cause acne or lead to thinning of the skin; causing it to be more delicate than usual. Pulsin Choc Chip Snack Bars. Steroids can cause stimulate your appetite, causing you unwanted weight gain.
Choosing healthy snacks can keep your energy levels up without leading too much weight gain. The Cancer Survivors Companion. Steroids can cause mood changes in some people. These changes in mood can present as anxiety and increased stress levels. During these bouts, it can be difficult to calm the mind and focus on the present.
Badger Balm Tension Soother Balm. Containing ingredients such as lavender, tangerine and extra virgin olive oil, the Badger Balm Tension Soother Balm has been formulated to relax a busy mind. Getting to sleep on steroids can be difficult. The Badger Sleep Balm contains lavender, bergamot, rosemary ginger and balsam to sooth the mind and encourage sleep.
Common steroids prescribed in the cancer setting are: As treatment for some bone marrow cancers Increase efficacy of some chemotherapy agents Reduce nausea and vomiting caused by chemo Decrease risk of allergic reactions to chemo Stimulate appetite Reduce pain associated caused by inflammation What are the common side effects of steroids?
Steroids can cause the following side effects: Weight gain and steroids. Is there anything else I should look out for while taking steroids? Your nurse will be checking your blood sugar levels regularly the test is a small finger prick , but contact your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms: Urinating frequently more than usual Constant thirst Increased fatigue Live Better With recommends the following products to help with the side effects associated with steroids: To help with skin concerns: Defiant Beauty Smooth Skin Balm Steroids can cause acne or lead to thinning of the skin; causing it to be more delicate than usual.
To help with increased appetite: Pulsin Choc Chip Snack Bars Steroids can cause stimulate your appetite, causing you unwanted weight gain. To help with stress and anxiety: The Cancer Survivors Companion Steroids can cause mood changes in some people. Badger Balm Tension Soother Balm Containing ingredients such as lavender, tangerine and extra virgin olive oil, the Badger Balm Tension Soother Balm has been formulated to relax a busy mind.
To help you fall asleep: Sleep Easy Set Getting to sleep on steroids can be difficult.