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What Factors Affect a Sufficient Corticosteroid Dosage?

By S. Berger
Updated May 17, 2024
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Corticosteroids are a class of drugs that mimic the effects of steroid hormones produced by the body. Often, they can be used for relieving inflammation caused by various medical conditions. The proper corticosteroid dosage that may be taken can depend on the condition being treated. Other factors may influence a desirable dose, including the type of medication taken, or other medical conditions like liver damage.

Asthma is one condition that may be treated through the use of these types of steroids. The corticosteroid dosage may vary based on which steroid is used. For prednisone, adults often take a dose of 40 milligrams (mg) every 12 hours for an acute asthma attack, or 40 mg every other day to prevent attacks. Children between the ages of five and 12 usually take a lower dose of the medication, such as 30 mg to treat an asthma attack, taken every 12 hours. This same corticosteroid dosage may be taken once every two days to prevent asthma complications, as well.

Other corticosteroids have similar effects, but due to having different strengths, an individual may use a dosage calculator to find a recommended dose for treatment. A dosage of 40 mg prednisone is roughly equivalent to 200 mg of cortisone, for example. People must consider not only the equivalent corticosteroid dosage, but also the length of time the medication is active. Prednisone remains in the body for longer than cortisone, so the latter drug may have to be taken at more frequent intervals.

Individuals taking one of these hormones for any reason should also consider any other medical conditions present when calculating their proper corticosteroid dosage. Some steroids, such as prednisone, must first be processed by the liver to be converted to an active form. Liver damage may slow the conversion rate, thus leading to a delayed buildup of the medication in the body. Therefore, a lower dose may prevent harmful amounts of the medication from accumulating in the body.

Topical corticosteroids may sometimes be used to treat inflammation located just under the skin. These doses may be measured in the amount of steroid cream needed to cover a fingertip, which is roughly equal to around 500 mg. Depending on the site of the inflammation, varying amounts of cream may be used. For treating inflammation of the genitals, for example, only enough cream to cover half a fingertip could be applied. Enough cream to cover the entire fingertip is often used to treat inflammations located on the hands, elbows, or knees.

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