Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Long-term treatment with prednisone can cause a number of side effects, but you can take steps to help minimize them.
- Protect your bones. If you're taking cortisone, it's essential to get adequate amounts of calcium to prevent bone loss and possible fractures. Getting enough vitamin D is just as important. Not only does vitamin D improve bone health by helping calcium absorption, but it also may improve muscle strength. Scientists are continuing to study vitamin D to determine the optimal daily dose, but it's safe to take up to 2,000 international units (IU) a day. Strength training and weight-bearing exercises such as walking and jogging also are essential for bone health.
- Exercise. In addition to keeping your bones strong, exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. This is significant because cortisone tends to cause weight gain, which in turn can contribute to diabetes — another side effect of cortisone therapy.
- Stop smoking. This is one of the most significant things you can do for your overall health. By itself, smoking causes serious health problems. It also makes problems you already have worse and can increase the side effects of medications you're taking.
- Adopt a healthy diet. Steroids can cause high blood sugar levels and eventually, full-blown diabetes. Emphasizing foods that help keep blood sugar on an even keel, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is key. So is having your glucose and average blood sugar (A1C) levels checked regularly. In addition, reaching your ideal weight will lessen some of the health risks associated with corticosteroids as well as the risks associated with obesity.
- Keep doctor appointments. During therapy for Churg-Strauss syndrome, your doctor will monitor you closely for side effects. This will likely include regular bone scans, eye exams, and blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checks. In addition, your doctor will look for signs of Churg-Strauss syndrome affecting new organs (relapse). Be sure to keep these appointments. If caught in time, it's possible to reverse many of the side effects associated with steroid use.
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- Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/gi-osteoporosis.asp. Accessed Oct. 12, 2010.
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- Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin D. National Institutes of Health. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp. Accessed Oct. 12, 2010.
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