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Corticosteroid medications — including cortisone, hydrocortisone and prednisone — have great potential in the treatment of a variety of conditions, from rashes to lupus to asthma. But corticosteroids also carry a risk of side effects. Working with your doctor, you can take steps to reduce these medications' side effects so that the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks.
Corticosteroids mimic the effects of hormones your body produces naturally in your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys. When prescribed in doses that exceed your body's usual levels, corticosteroids suppress inflammation. This can reduce the signs and symptoms of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and asthma.
Corticosteroids also suppress your immune system, which can help control conditions in which your immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues.
Corticosteroid medications are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, allergies and many other conditions. They also treat conditions such as Addison's disease, in which the adrenal glands don't produce enough steroids, and help prevent organ rejection in transplant recipients.
You can take corticosteroids:
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