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Steroid Induced Osteoporosis

Steroid induced osteoporosis is becoming more common as the number and popularity of steroid drugs increases.

Some medications interfere with calcium absorption or bone formation and can leave us susceptible to developing osteoporosis. Steroids and corticosteroids are two of the greatest culprits.

Steroids and corticosteroids are used for a wide variety of conditions, including inflammatory intestinal illness, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis as well as to suppress the immune system after a transplant. These drugs may be prescribed as a pill, injection, a spray or a skin cream. When used for a short time or injected into a joint or swollen area there is no effect on bone health, but when used for long periods of time (3 months or more) they begin to destroy the bone-building process. Some of the more frequently prescribed steroid drugs are prednisone, prednisolone, Medrol, Deltasone, Decadron, Cortisone, Cortel, Celestone, and Aristocort.

Studies show that within the first year after starting corticosteroid therapy, patients lose an average 14 percent of their bone mineral content. Anyone on long-term steroids should have a bone density scan, use bone-building supplements, join an exercise class that includes weight training and consult with their doctor about taking medication that would prevent the inevitable bone loss.