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What are steroid withdrawal symptoms and signs?

Withdrawal symptoms usually appear after extended use of steroids with rapid/sudden stopping of the drug. These steroids include glucocorticoids, anabolic steroids in topical, injectable, and transdermal forms. The following symptoms and signs may occur in individuals that are withdrawing from taking steroids:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Menstrual changes

Less often, joint pain, skin changes, muscle aches, fever, mental changes, or elevations of calcium may be noted. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances may occur. Decrease in gastrointestinal contractions can occur, leading to dilation of the intestine (ileus). Steroid withdrawal symptoms mimic many other medical problems.

Return to Steroid Drug Withdrawal

See what others are saying

Comment from: Soldieron, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 19

I was diagnosed with neurosarcoidosis and was on 60 mg steroid for a month and a half before weaning. I was weaned to 5 mg a week for four months and I have not been taking any steroids for a week and a half now. I have headaches occasionally and severe itching on my arms which I'm not sure is related or not. I've had off and on menstrual bleeding. Overall experience has not been terrible.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Jan, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 10

I was on 5 mg of prednisolone for 9 years. My general physician had me taper off over 4 weeks but my specialist has said it should have been more like 3 months. I am experiencing weakness, twitching, tremors, dizziness and lack of appetite so the specialist has put me back on my full dose until my symptoms disappear and then we will discuss a much slower tapering off.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Sue, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 01

I have been taking prednisone for approximately 10 months. I was on 40 mg daily then decreased by 5 mg per week until down to 5 mg, and was remaining on 5 mg for the last 6 weeks. I stopped taking them, to my delight, 6 days ago. I am 64 years old and expect to get a few aches etc., but the last couple of days, my arms and legs are aching. I am finding it hard to get out of the chair or walk upstairs. The dose has been low for at least 8 weeks now, it is likely I am having steroid drug withdrawal symptoms. If they are likely to stop soon I can put up with them, but with a holiday looming I want to be able to walk around. My underlying pathology is late onset eosinophilia asthma.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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