There are times steroids can save lives. Unfortunately, there are a ton of potential issues with steroids as well. One of them is infection risk. A recent article in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease shows that infection risk in individuals using a high dose of steroids (>30mg prednisone per day) for more than 6 months is 10 fold higher than baseline. And equally troubling is that the risk of long term low dose steroids (prednisone 5mg/day) is 2 times above baseline. This last finding is interesting since most physicians consider low doses of steroids to be only mildly dangerous.

There are some conditions, such as active autoimmune conditions, where steroids are actually needed. But if you’re requiring steroids, then you should also have a plan on how to decrease your steroid dose as well. Usually this requires other medication. That discussion should start the same time you are starting steroids. Minimizing steroids to as short as possible a period of time is essential.

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