Oral corticosteroids in pregnancy

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.

The physiologic action of fludrocortisone acetate is similar to that of hydrocortisone. However, the effects of fludrocortisone acetate, particularly on electrolyte balance, but also on carbohydrate metabolism, are considerably heightened and prolonged. Mineralocorticoids act on the distal tubules of the kidney to enhance the reabsorption of sodium ions from the tubular fluid into the plasma; they increase the urinary excretion of both potassium and hydrogen ions. The consequence of these three primary effects together with similar actions on cation transport in other tissues appear to account for the entire spectrum of physiological activities that are characteristic of mineralocorticoids. In small oral doses, fludrocortisone acetate produces marked sodium retention and increased urinary potassium excretion. It also causes a rise in blood pressure , apparently because of these effects on electrolyte levels.

Certain drugs such as troleandomycin (TAO), erythromycin ( Ery-Tab , EryPed 200), and clarithromycin ( Biaxin ) and ketoconazole ( Nizoral ) can reduce the ability of the liver to metabolize (breakdown) corticosteroids and this may lead to an increase in the levels and side effects of corticosteroids in the body. On the other hand, phenobarbital, ephedrine , phenytoin ( Dilantin ), and rifampin ( Rifadin , Rimactane ) may reduce the blood levels of corticosteroids by increasing the breakdown of corticosteroids by the liver. This may necessitate an increase of corticosteroid dose when they are used in combination with these drugs.

An example of an acute hepatitis-like syndrome arising after pulse methylprednisolone therapy.  These episodes arise typically 2 to 4 weeks after a third or fourth cycle of pulse therapy, and range in severity from an asymptomatic and transient rise in serum aminotransferase levels to an acute hepatitis and even fulminant hepatic failure.  In this instance, the marked and persistent rise in serum enzymes coupled with liver histology suggesting chronic hepatitis led to a diagnosis of new-onset autoimmune hepatitis, despite the absence of serum autoantibodies or hypergammaglobulinemia.  Autoimmune hepatitis may initially present in this fashion, without the typical pattern of serum autoantibodies during the early, anicteric phase.  The diagnosis was further supported by the prompt improvements in serum enzymes with prednisone therapy.  The acute hepatitis-like syndrome that can occur after pulses of methylprednisolone is best explained as a triggering of an underlying chronic autoimmune hepatitis caused by the sudden and profound immunosuppression followed by rapid withdrawal.  This syndrome can be severe, and fatal instances have been reported.  Whether reinitiation of corticosteroid therapy with gradual tapering and withdrawal is effective in ameliorating the course of illness is unclear, but anecdotal reports such as this one suggest that they are beneficial and should be initiated promptly on appearance of this syndrome.  Long term follow up of such cases is also necessary to document that the autoimmune hepatitis does not relapse once corticosteroids are withdrawn again.

The growth of children and adolescents receiving orally inhaled corticosteroids, including QVAR, should be monitored routinely (., via stadiometry). If a child or adolescent on any corticosteroid appears to have growth suppression, the possibility that he/she is particularly sensitive to this effect should be considered. The potential growth effects of prolonged treatment should be weighed against clinical benefits obtained and the risks associated with alternative therapies. To minimize the systemic effects of orally inhaled corticosteroids, including QVAR, each patient should be titrated to his/her lowest effective dose [see Dosage and Administration ( )] .

Oral corticosteroids in pregnancy

oral corticosteroids in pregnancy

An example of an acute hepatitis-like syndrome arising after pulse methylprednisolone therapy.  These episodes arise typically 2 to 4 weeks after a third or fourth cycle of pulse therapy, and range in severity from an asymptomatic and transient rise in serum aminotransferase levels to an acute hepatitis and even fulminant hepatic failure.  In this instance, the marked and persistent rise in serum enzymes coupled with liver histology suggesting chronic hepatitis led to a diagnosis of new-onset autoimmune hepatitis, despite the absence of serum autoantibodies or hypergammaglobulinemia.  Autoimmune hepatitis may initially present in this fashion, without the typical pattern of serum autoantibodies during the early, anicteric phase.  The diagnosis was further supported by the prompt improvements in serum enzymes with prednisone therapy.  The acute hepatitis-like syndrome that can occur after pulses of methylprednisolone is best explained as a triggering of an underlying chronic autoimmune hepatitis caused by the sudden and profound immunosuppression followed by rapid withdrawal.  This syndrome can be severe, and fatal instances have been reported.  Whether reinitiation of corticosteroid therapy with gradual tapering and withdrawal is effective in ameliorating the course of illness is unclear, but anecdotal reports such as this one suggest that they are beneficial and should be initiated promptly on appearance of this syndrome.  Long term follow up of such cases is also necessary to document that the autoimmune hepatitis does not relapse once corticosteroids are withdrawn again.

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