GLUCOCORTICOIDS are members of the corticosteroid family, with actions similar to the steroid hormones secreted by the adrenal cortex. There are two main types of corticosteroids: glucocorticoids and MINERALOCORTICOIDS. Glucocorticoids that are important physiologically include hydrocortisone (cortisol), corticosterone and cortisone. These are essential for utilization of carbohydrate, fat and protein in the body, and in the normal response to stress. Naturally occurring and synthetic glucocorticoids have a powerful antiinflammatory effect. In contrast, the mineralocorticoids (e.g. aldosterone) are necessary for the regulation of the salt and water balance of the body. Corticosteroids can be used in hormone replacement therapy. For instance, the glucocorticoid hydrocortisone and the mineralocorticoid fludrocortisone can be given to patients for replacement therapy where there is a deficiency, or in Addison’s disease, or following adrenalectomy or hypopituitarism. The glucocorticoids are potent antiinflammatory and antiallergic agents, frequently used to treat inflammatory and/or allergic reactions of the skin, airways and elsewhere. Absorption of a high dose of corticosteroid over a period of time may also cause undesirable Read more […]


ANTIINFLAMMATORY AGENTS are drugs that are used to reduce inflammatory responses in the body. Although inflammation is essentially a normal defensive mechanism (a reaction to tissue injury, infection, inhalation of foreign proteins), the manifestations may be so serious and inappropriate or involve such discomfort, that treatment with antiinflammatory agents is required. Inflammatory conditions can be acute (as in insect stings) or chronic (chronic asthma, dermatitis and other skin conditions, rheumatoid conditions). A wide range of drugs may be used to treat one or other inflammatory condition, and potential toxicity in relation to the medical condition is an important determinant of choice. The NSAID ANALGESIC group has the widest antiinflammatory use, and their inhibitory antiinflammatory property is due to their cyclooxygenase activity (see CYCLOOXYGENASE INHIBITORS). Here the associated relief of pain is largely attributable to some degree of correction of the underlying inflammatory condition. Some of this group are relatively non-toxic and are available without prescription for use for relatively trivial complaints, e.g. aspirin and ibuprofen. (Paracetamol has insufficient antiinflammatory action to be useful Read more […]