Corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormones that are produced by the adrenal cortex of the human body. They are involved in a wide range of physiological processes, including the regulation of metabolism, the immune system, and the response to stress.
Corticosteroids can be classified into two main categories: glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. Glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, are involved in the regulation of glucose metabolism and the immune response, while mineralocorticoids, such as aldosterone, are involved in the regulation of electrolyte and water balance.
Corticosteroids can also be used as medication to treat a variety of medical conditions. For example, they can be used to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system, making them useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. They can also be used to reduce swelling and inflammation in the airways, making them useful in the treatment of asthma and other respiratory conditions.
However, corticosteroids can also have side effects, especially when used for long periods of time or in high doses. These side effects can include weight gain, high blood pressure, weakened bones, increased risk of infection, and mood changes. As with any medication, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of corticosteroid therapy with a healthcare provider before starting treatment.