Oral and injectable systemic corticosterois are steroid hormones prescribed to decrease inflammation in diseases and conditions such as arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, for example), ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, asthma, bronchitis, some skin rashes, and allergic or inflammatory conditions that involve the nose and eyes. Examples of systemic corticosteroids include hydrocortisone (Cortef), cortisone, prednisone (Prednisone Intensol), prednisolone (Orapred, Prelone), and methylprednisolone (Medrol, Depo-Medrol, Solu-Medrol). Some of the side effects of systemic corticosteroids are swelling of the legs, hypertension, headache, easy bruising, facial hair growth, diabetes, cataracts, and puffiness of the face.
Another common fear about corticosteroids is that they will cause growth suppression in children. To date, many studies have been done that prove that corticosteroids do not stunt a child's growth. Six years of ongoing studies in children and adolescents who used inhaled corticosteroids show that the speed of growth may be slowed by about 1 cm. over one year in children. However, these children catch up and do attain their full adult height. In some studies, these children grew even taller than their siblings. Interestingly, poorly controlled asthma can actually contribute to growth suppression.