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What are the steroid shape changes?

I am currently in week 6 of a hospital admission for an exacerbation which just isn't settling, despite continuous iv salbutamol etc etc. Throughout this time I've been receiving 100mg iv hydrocortisone four times a day, and every attempt to drop the dose has destabilised the asthma.

Unsuprisingly, but a bit unexpectedly for me as it's never happened before, I am showing all the effects of high-dose steroid use: very round face (with hamster cheeks!), round pot belly and fat tummy, skinny legs etc. What I would like to know is what these changes are? I know that sounds stupid, but they came on so suddenly over about 48 hours, and obviously won't go away while I'm still on such a high dose.

Is it fat redistribution? My overall weight has actually gone down, but I look much bigger due to the face and tum. Or is it fluid retention? I feel like I am retaining fluid (do steroids cause this?) so I am trying to drink a lot to 'push it out' - is this pseudo-science?!

Basically i just wondered if anyone could explain a little more about these steroid changes? I'm not too concerned as I know they will go again once I eventually get out and off such high doses, but I would just like to understand a little more about what it is and how it happens?

Thank you!

2 Replies

Hi Carrie so sorry to hear you are having such a really horrid time with your asthma. I do know the feeling very well. I have had 6 months of hell with my asthma and just as I think yes I am finally get somewhere it goes out of control again

Any the steriod shape will go like you said once you are off such high doses and it's great news you are lossing weight while being on high dose steriods. You can get really bad fluid retention while on IV steriods and the only thing that seems to work to help clear it up if you don't want to go down the route of fluid retention tablets is canberry juice. I'm not sure why we get the steriod shape, it just seems to happen over night and is so frustrating. I hope they can finally help you sort your asthma out and you don't have to stay in hospital for much longer so you can get back home where I bet you want to be? Huge hugs to you and take care


Fluid retention or oedema can happen to the abdomen and feet / ankles. Fat gets redistributed to face, abdomen and between shoulder blades. The fat on the shoulder blades Can be commonly known as ""buffaloo hump"". They do go away when steriods reduced or stopped and when u lose the weight. Also can cause the lovely stretch mark look to the abdomen....


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