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Medical IDs for the Use of Steroids
The confidence to live with steroids
Steroids have been used in almost all areas of medicine since their discovery more than 70 years ago. Today, steroids are among the most widely prescribed drug classes in the world, with an estimated market of more than $10 billion per year. While steroids have many uses and benefits, some can cause serious health problems. Others can interact with prescription drugs and some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, causing everything from high blood pressure and stomach ulcers to internal bleeding. Fortunately, when you understand the possible side effects of using steroids, you can take the necessary steps to avoid them.
This is where wearing a MedicAlert medical ID for steroids comes in.
How MedicAlert protects those living with steroids
One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with steroids, their families and caregivers.
24/7 Emergency Response
Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.
Digital Health Profile
All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.
Emergency Contact Notification
In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.
Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.
Pair a medical ID for steroids with the protection plan that’s right for you.
What exactly are steroids?
Steroids are prescription medications that suppress inflammation and reduce the activity of the immune system. By controlling inflammation, steroids can treat conditions from arthritis to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). By inhibiting the body’s immune system, steroids can control conditions that develop when the immune system malfunctions and can’t distinguish between the body’s healthy cells and foreign cells. If this happens, the immune system can attack the body’s own healthy bones, organs, and tissues.
Not to be confused with anabolic steroids (a substance used illegally by some athletes to increase muscle mass), steroids are prescribed by doctors for certain medical conditions. Depending on the condition being treated, steroids may be administered orally (by mouth), inhaler or intranasal spray, directly to the skin (topical), by injection, and in the form of eyedrops (ophthalmic).
The different types of steroids include:
Cortisone, to relieve inflammation in the joints.
Prednisone, the most commonly used steroid to treat rheumatologic diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Nearly 23 million prescriptions were filled for prednisone in 2019 alone.
Methylprednisolone, used to treat everything from inflammation and severe allergic reactions to chronic illnesses and symptoms of cancer.
Commonly used cortisone variants include:
- Betamethasone (Celestone)
- Tramcinolone (Kenalog)
Prednisone is marketed under the following brand names:
- predniSONE Intensol
- Sterapred DS
Methylprednisolone is sold under the names:
- Medrol Dosepak
Steroids have generic versions that are the same as brand-name versions in safety, dosage, strength, stability, quality, and effectiveness, but they are sold at a lower price.
For which conditions are steroids prescribed?
Steroids are primarily used to reduce inflammation in a number of conditions and diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, IBD, asthma, allergies, lupus, skin diseases such as severe eczema and sarcoidosis, cancer, eye problems, and vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels). Steroids also help suppress the immune system to prevent organ rejection in transplant recipients and they can help treat Addison’s disease—a rare, but life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s adrenal glands don’t produce enough cortisol (the primary stress hormone) and aldosterone (hormone that regulates salt in the body).
What to engrave on MedicAlert medical IDs for steroids:
MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our steroids use bracelets and medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for steroids should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:
- Steroids, other medications
- Drug interactions
- Medical conditions
- Any critical medical information that needs to be communicated to first responders
Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for steroids.
What are the advantages of steroids?
Steroids are generally well-tolerated and safe. When taken as directed, steroids can be organ-saving, even life-saving, when the function of critical organs like the kidneys are endangered by inflammation. Steroids also provide significant relief from pain and stiffness for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Short-term use of steroids can help a person recover from a severe arthritis flare-up—a common cause of disability and one of the most common chronic conditions.
What are the potential side effects from steroids?
Long-term use of steroids can carry significant side effects, so doctors do not prescribe them lightly. Dosage, the type of steroid, and even the route of administration can also affect the intensity of side effects. For example, unlike topical steroids, which are applied to a specific area of the body, oral steroids affect the entire body, so they are the most likely to cause significant side effects. Regardless of the type of steroid or how long you plan to use it, it is important to consult with your doctor regularly during use. Medical IDs for steroids can help immensely for avoiding unwanted drug interactions during medical emergencies.
Common side effects of oral steroid use include:
- Fluid retention, including swelling in the lower legs
- High blood pressure
- Psychological effects such as mood swings, confusion, and delirium
- Upset stomach
- Weight gain, especially in the abdomen, neck, and face
Longer-term use of oral steroid use may cause:
- Cataracts (clouding of one or both eyes)
- Fat build-up on the sides of the face (called moon face)
- Glaucoma (elevated pressure in the eyes)
- High blood sugar, which can trigger or worsen diabetes
- Increased risk of bacterial, viral and fungal infections
- Osteoporosis (thinning bones) and fractures
- Severe fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and muscle weakness from suppressed adrenal gland production
- Thin skin, bruising and slower wound healing
Note that glaucoma, cataracts, delayed wound healing, and increased susceptibility to infection are also possible side effects of using ophthalmic steroids.
Potential side effects of inhaled steroids include:
- Hoarseness or throat irritation
- Oral thrush (fungal infection in the mouth)
- Slow growth rates in children with asthma
- Throat irritation
Topical steroids can lead to:
- Red skin lesions
- Thin skin
Possible side effects of injected steroids include:
- Flushing of the face
- High blood sugar
- Post-injection flare (intense pain, thinning of, and loss of color in the skin near the injection site)
The length of time a doctor will prescribe steroid injections depends on each person’s individual situation. Injections are often limited to three or four a year.
How should you manage the use of steroids?
To avoid side effects from using steroids, it is important to know which prescription and OTC drugs interact with them. Examples include:
- Anti-diabetic drugs
- Anti-hypertensive drugs
- Diuretics and laxatives
- Rifampicin, carbamazepine, and other drugs that decrease cortisone in the blood
It is also important to see your doctor regularly while using steroids. Medical professionals follow several guidelines to minimize the side effects of steroids:
- Use steroids only when necessary
- Minimize dosage and reduce over time
- Use local (delivered directly to the site of action), rather than systemic (delivered throughout the body) when possible to reduce the rest of the body’s exposure, which leads to reduced effects
- Monitor symptoms closely
How medical IDs for steroids combined with MedicAlert Membership provide peace of mind
- We’re your voice: If you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your use of steroids and any other medications you’re taking.
- 24/7 emergency protection: In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.
- Always connected: You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.
- Live with peace of mind and confidence: MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with steroid medications, knowing we’ve got you covered.
Sources: Assistance Publique Hopitaux De Paris (AP-HP); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Cleveland Clinic; ClinCalc.com (Sean P. Kane, PharmD, BCPS); IBD Clinic: University of Alberta; Mayo Clinic, National Health Service (NHS), National Library of Medicine (NLM); Oregon State University-Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC); University of Utah Health Care: John A. Moran Center