Understanding Crohn Disease Medications (cont.)
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
This class of drugs includes betamethasone (Celestone Soluspan), budesonide (Entocort),
cortisone (Cortone), dexamethasone (Decadron),
methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol), prednisolone (Delta-Cortef), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), and triamcinolone (Aristocort).
- How corticosteroids work: These drugs decrease swelling and inflammation by suppressing immune response and are used when Crohn's
disease suddenly worsens.
- Who should not use these medications: Individuals who have allergy to corticosteroids should not take them, nor should anyone with peptic ulcer disease, liver impairment, or viral, fungal, or tubercular infections.
- Use: Corticosteroids are administered by various routes, such as oral, rectal, or injection. The goal is to use the smallest dose that will control symptoms. The length of treatment
should be for the shortest time possible in order to lower the risk of developing side effects.
- Drug or food interactions: Many drug interactions are possible. Contact a doctor or pharmacist before taking new prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil or Aleve, or other drugs associated with stomach ulcers may increase the risk of developing stomach
ulcers. Corticosteroids may decrease potassium levels; therefore, caution must be used when taking other drugs that decrease potassium, such as
diuretics (furosemide [Lasix]).
- Side effects: Ideally, these drugs are used for only short periods in order to control sudden flares in symptoms. Long-term use is associated with serious side effects, such as osteoporosis, glaucoma, mental changes, and, in prepubertal children, diminished bone growth. After prolonged use, doses must be gradually decreased over weeks to months to avoid corticosteroid withdrawal syndrome.
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