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Steroids are hormones, either naturally occurring or synthetically made and administered, which have a very powerful overall control function in the body in one of three areas:
Because all the types of steroid hormones are so potent in their effects (and possible side-effects), your doctor will prescribe them cautiously in limited amounts for a limited time. She will discuss possible side effects with you, and you should take the medication exactly as prescribed. Luckily, children take such short courses of treatment for the ailments for which oral steroids are commonly prescribed (asthma flareups, poison ivy) that the elaborate tapering routines common for adults are unnecessary if the medication is given for 10 days or less1,2.
1. Cydulka RK, Emerman CL Journal of Emergency Medicine 1998;16:15.
2. Hatton MQ et al Respiratory Medicine 1995;89:101.