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Steroids, also known as Corticosteroids or Glucocorticoids, can be very effective medicines at reducing inflammation and inducing remission of IBD.
Steroids are hormones (chemicals) that are produced naturally from cholesterol by the body’s adrenal glands (which sit on top of your kidneys). These hormones have a number of important functions. They help regulate blood pressure and the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins and help the body adjust to physical stress. In the treatment of IBD, steroid medications are man-made versions of glucocorticoids, that reduce inflammation and allow the bowel to heal.
The immune system is important for fighting infections, but sometimes immune cells attack the body’s own tissues and trigger chronic inflammation (like that found in IBD). Steroids are one of the oldest treatments used in IBD. They work by reducing the activity of cells in the immune system and blocking inflammation.
Four out of five people with IBD are likely to be treated with steroids at some time for their condition. The steroids used in IBD should not be confused with anabolic steroids, which are sometimes used by body builders to increase muscle mass.
To find more information about steroids, refer to the corresponding sections.