Long term oral corticosteroid use can also cause adrenal insufficiency. The adrenal gland normally secretes vital hormones known as corticosteroids. With oral corticosteroid use longer than a month, the adrenal gland may be suppressed in secreting corticosteroids important for normal body function. Very long courses, especially with high doses, can cause the adrenal gland to stop working completely. The adrenal gland will restart after stopping corticosteroids, but it may take months to years for the adrenal gland to completely recover.
Some parents worry that children who use inhaled corticosteroids may not grow as tall as other children. A very small difference in height and growth was found in children who were using inhaled corticosteroids compared to children not using them. 3 And one study showed a very small difference in height [about in. ( cm) ] in adults who used inhaled corticosteroids as children compared to adults who did not use inhaled corticosteroids. 4 But the use of inhaled corticosteroids has important health benefits for children who have asthma. If you are worried about the effects of asthma medicines on your child, talk with your doctor.
Studies on corticosteroids tend to lean toward the extreme use, rather than the average use. For example, some studies look at corticosteroids for extreme and rarer cases of eczema. This makes it harder to research what long-term studies are out there on steroid use. To complicate things further, corticosteroids can be oral, topical, injected, or inhaled, and this dramatically changes the benefits and risks, and in turn the short-term and long-term effects. Speak with your doctor and pharmacist on what, if any, long-term studies out there are relevant to your own medical treatment.