corticosteroid drug (kôr´təkōstâr´oid), any one of several synthetic or naturally occurring substances with the general chemical structure of steroids. They are used therapeutically to mimic or augment the effects of the naturally occurring corticosteroids, which are produced in the cortex of the adrenal gland. Corticosteroids are very powerful drugs that affect the entire body; even corticosteroids used on large areas of skin for long periods are absorbed in sufficient quantity to cause systemic effects.
Corticosteroids, as well as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), the pituitary gland substance that stimulates the adrenal cortex, have modifying effects on many diseases. Some corticosteroid derivatives mimic the action of the naturally occurring steroid hormone aldosterone, causing increased sodium retention and potassium excretion. Others have the same effects as the naturally occurring steroids cortisone and cortisol, which are classed as glucocorticoids; these affect carbohydrate and fat metabolism, reduce tissue inflammation, and suppress the body's immune defense mechanisms. Cortisone and hydrocortisone are used to treat Addison's disease, a disorder caused by underproduction of the adrenal cortex hormones. These and synthetic steroids are used extensively to treat arthritis and other rheumatoid diseases, including rheumatic heart disease. They are also used in some cases of autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, in severe allergic conditions such as asthma, in allergic and inflammatory eye disorders, and in some respiratory diseases. The anti-inflammatory, itch-suppressing, and vasoconstrictive properties of steroids make them useful when applied to the skin to relieve diseases such as eczema and psoriasis and insect bites.
Because corticosteroids lower the resistance to infection, patients on steroid therapy cannot be vaccinated for smallpox or immunized. The administration of corticosteroids also causes underproduction of the natural hormones by the adrenal cortex, and so ACTH or corticosteroid therapy must always be withdrawn gradually. In addition, when used in large doses for long periods of time, the drugs can cause atrophy of the adrenal cortex. Side effects of steroid therapy include glaucoma, excess hair growth, and imbalance of many substances, including calcium, nitrogen, potassium, and sodium. Many of the synthetic corticosteroids, such as prednisone, prednisolone, triamcinolone, and betamethasone, are more potent than the naturally occurring compounds.
"corticosteroid drug." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/corticosteroid-drug
"corticosteroid drug." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/corticosteroid-drug
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.