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- Steroid withdrawal facts
- What are steroid withdrawal symptoms and signs?
- Discontinuing steroids
- What tests do health-care professionals use to diagnose steroid withdrawal?
- What types of doctors treat steroid withdrawal symptoms?
- What is the treatment for steroid withdrawal?
- What is the prognosis of steroid withdrawal?
- Is it possible to prevent steroid withdrawal?
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What tests do health-care professionals use to diagnose steroid withdrawal?
Because the symptoms of steroid withdrawal are varied and nonspecific, health-care professionals may have some difficulty diagnosing this problem. However, the best way to diagnose steroid withdrawal is to have a good history and physical examination from the patient, with emphasis on medications such as steroid usage in the recent past that have been discontinued. The patient can help if they indicate to their doctors they have stopped steroids recently. Other tests that may aid in the diagnosis are the cortisol level, serum calcium level, CBC, electrolyte levels, BUN level, and creatinine level.
What types of doctors treat steroid withdrawal symptoms?
In addition to primary-care physicians, internal-medicine specialists, endocrinologists, addiction specialists, emergency physicians, hospitalists, and hospital-based pharmacists can participate in treating steroid withdrawal.
What is the treatment for steroid withdrawal?
In general, steroid withdrawal is treated by administering steroids to decrease or eliminate withdrawal symptoms. Then, gradually decreasing the amount steroids given so the body can adjust to synthesizing steroids normally. Each individual patient is different so the physicians will take into account the patient's symptoms, steroid type (for example, hormonal steroids can be reduced faster than other steroid medications), and the patient's compliance. The weaning time is highly variable and may take a few weeks to up to a year or so depending on the patient's dependency, the strength and type of steroid administered, and underlying medical problems.
Some patients may require increases in their steroids during withdrawal with stressful conditions such as emergency surgery. Such increases are usually very short-term increases.
What is the prognosis of steroid withdrawal?
The prognosis of steroid withdrawal, if quickly recognized and treated, is usually good. The prognosis begins to decline if the steroid withdrawal goes unrecognized and complications such as electrolyte abnormalities, dehydration, and other signs and symptoms lead to further health problems or if the patient becomes noncompliant with treatment protocols.