Corticosteroids can interact with other medicines, and the effects of either medicine can be altered as a result.
There is less chance of this happening with steroid injections or sprays, although it can occasionally happen if they're used at high doses and for a long time.
Some of the more common interactions are listed below, but this is not a complete list. If you want to check your medicines are safe to take with corticosteroids, ask your GP or pharmacist, or read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine.
You can also search for your medication in the Medicines A-Z guide.
Anticoagulant medicines are medications that make the blood less sticky. They are often prescribed to people with a history of blood clots or an increased risk of developing them.
Combining corticosteroids with anticoagulant medicines can sometimes make anticoagulants less effective. Alternatively, it can increase their blood-thinning effect, which can cause bleeding inside the digestive system.
Anticonvulsants are medicines used to prevent seizures (fits) and are often used to treat epilepsy, but they can reduce the effectiveness of corticosteroids.
Depending on how frequent and severe your seizures are and the condition the steroids are being used to treat, you may be advised to temporarily stop taking anticonvulsants.
Corticosteroids can decrease the effectiveness of medications used to treat diabetes.
If you need to take both of these medications, your blood glucose levels will usually be checked more regularly and your dose of diabetes medication may need to be adjusted.
Corticosteroids, including steroid inhalers, can sometimes interact with a type of medication known as protease inhibitors (such as ritonavir) used to treat HIV.
The HIV medication may increase the level of corticosteroid in your body, which might increase your risk of experiencing side effects.
Some vaccinations contain a weakened form of the infection they are designed to protect against. These are known as live vaccines. Examples of live vaccines include:
As corticosteroids can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to infection, you should avoid any live vaccine until at least three months after your course of corticosteroids has finished.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a group of commonly used painkillers, such as ibuprofen, that are available over the counter at pharmacists.
Combining NSAIDs and corticosteroids can increase your risk of developing stomach ulcers and internal bleeding. If you need to take both medications, you may be given an additional medication called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to reduce the risk of stomach ulcers.