Skip to Content
Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Corticosteroids for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Some of these medicines may be taken as pills. If the
disease affects only the lower part of the colon, corticosteroids can be given
by enema. For disease that only affects the rectum, suppositories and topical
creams can be used. In severe cases, some corticosteroids are given through a
needle in a vein (IV).
These medicines reduce
Corticosteroids are used to treat
ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD).
Corticosteroids improve or stop the
symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. These medicines are used to
put the disease in remission (a period without symptoms). They are not used
long term. When the disease has gone into
remission, your doctor will gradually reduce the strength and the amount of
corticosteroid you are taking.
Only people who do not get better
with other medicines—less than half of people with IBD—need to take
corticosteroids. Of these people, many go into remission after taking
corticosteroids.footnote 1, footnote 2 Some people with IBD may need to
keep taking a small dose of corticosteroids to help keep them in
Steroid enemas may be especially helpful for
inflammation in the lower colon and the rectum.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
Corticosteroids can keep your immune system from fighting infection. When you are taking this medicine (and even when you have finished taking it), try not to be around people who are sick. And make sure you talk to your doctor before you get any vaccinations.
People who take corticosteroids for more than
2 to 3 months should take calcium and vitamin D supplements or other medicines,
such as bisphosphonates, to prevent osteoporosis. For more information, see the
Medications section of the topic Osteoporosis. Your doctor may want you to have
a bone density test to check for osteoporosis.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Women who use this medicine during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Mills SC, et al. (2011). Crohn's disease, search date December 2009. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Friedman S, Lichtenstein GR (2006). Ulcerative colitis. In MM Wolfe et al., eds., Therapy of Digestive Disorders, 2nd ed., pp. 803–817. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerArvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Current as ofNovember 14, 2014
Current as of:
November 14, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Send Us Your Feedback
North Kansas City Hospital