Autoimmune Diseases and Steroid Use: Signs of Misuse

Man suffering from autoimmune disease

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body, affecting various parts of the body depending on the disease. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), autoimmune diseases impact up to 50 million Americans throughout the United States [1].

While approximately 80-100 different types of autoimmune diseases have been identified, some of the main autoimmune diseases include Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, polymyalgia rheumatic, Sjogren’s syndrome, Type 1 Diabetes, vasulitis, and more. Autoimmune disorders are often chronic and can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Treatment Options For Autoimmune Diseases

Doctor talking to her male patient at officeTreatments for autoimmune diseases vary depending on the type of disease and how the body is being impacted. While these chronic conditions do not have a cure, medical interventions are helpful for managing symptoms, alleviating pain associated with these diseases, and improving overall quality of life.

Some of the medications prescribed for managing autoimmune diseases include anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications. Steroid therapy is commonly used for the management of inflammatory conditions associated with autoimmune conditions and may include either oral or injectable preparations.

Safely Using Steroids to Manage Autoimmune Diseases

Man researching steroid therapy on his laptop.As with any medication, steroids used to treat autoimmune diseases and therapeutically manage symptoms should be done under the guidance and discretion of a treating physician who is treating the patient. The course and duration of steroid treatment will largely depend on the condition being treated.

High dosages of steroids, particularly if used over a long-period of time, can result in adverse effects, many which can worsen the overall prognosis and health of an individual.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an autoimmune disease and undergoing steroid treatment/therapy, be sure to closely follow the therapeutic recommendations of your prescribing physician for medication management. Understanding possible side effects and the pros and cons of steroid treatment should occur before beginning the course of treatment.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

If you have utilized steroid therapy for the management of autoimmune diseases, what were some of the pros and cons you experienced?


[1]: American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association,

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 24, 2016
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