How Steroids Affect your Immune System

How steroids affect your immune systems

God provided us with incredible healing abilities. We heal bodily injuries and replace many of our cells every day in response to stress, trauma, and exposure to toxins or invading microorganisms. An important part of that innate repair system and protection from infection is inflammation: the redness, swelling, and pain that accompany most injuries and infectious diseases.

When cells are damaged or exposed to toxins or infections, they release chemicals that cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the injured tissues. The fluid causes swelling. The chemicals also attract white blood cells called phagocytes that “eat” germs and dead or damaged cells. Inflammation is an important early step in healing of many disease states, injuries, degenerative conditions (like arthritis), and exposure to allergens, bacteria, viruses, and toxins.

Sometimes, the inflammatory response can get out of control and needs to be moderated. A good example of this is an allergic (inflammatory) reaction that causes swelling in the airways. Left unchecked, an excessive inflammatory response in the airways can be deadly. For years, physicians have relied upon the anti-inflammatory properties of steroids to reduce this inflammatory response. With good reason, it would seem, as steroids can reduce the swelling and pain of arthritic joints, the redness and itch of poison ivy, and the difficulty of breathing in allergic reactions. Steroids are powerful medications and can save lives; but they come with a cost.

Numerous studies have shown steroids degrade cartilage, raise blood sugar levels, worsen or cause osteoporosis, contribute to fractures in the spine, and interfere with our immunity to bacteria and viruses. With medical experts anticipating the Coronavirus will be circulating for a few years to come, it is important for us to optimize our immune systems. Understanding your risks is a critical piece to evaluating the consequences of steroid use, not just during the viral pandemic but into the future as well.

At Advanced PainCare, and at pain management centers throughout this nation, you will find physicians evaluating your overall COVID-19 risk and assigning you to a risk level based upon your age, weight, and medical history. Depending on the risk status assigned, you may be advised to be administered steroids at a half dose, or be offered an alternative treatment altogether.

Options to steroids include: topical, non-steroidal salves for rashes or Curcumin, an all-natural anti-inflammatory that is typically in capsules, to treat the pain of arthritis. If something stronger is needed for joint pain, prolotherapy or platelet injection therapy are safe and should be considered. In the age of Coronavirus, we need to rethink treatment options. Gratuitous steroid use is outdated, unwise, and potentially harmful. For more information on optimizing your immune response, go to and check out the latest article on preventing COVID-19.

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