The long-term side effects of steroid use are quite variable and can be severe. When taken for prolonged periods, they can turn off steroid production by the adrenal glands and/or turn off the signal to make steroids by the pituitary gland, and can cause increased appetite, weight gain, deposition of fat in specific locations (widow’s hump, moon faces), loss of calcium from bone, accentuation or appearance of diabetes, cataracts, accentuation or appearance of high blood pressure, avascular necrosis of bone (death of bone due to loss of blood supply), increased susceptibility to infection, appearance of infection caused by organisms that normally don’t lead to infection (opportunistic infection), activation of dormant infections (such as TB), development of so-called steroid psychosis, steroid myopathy (loss of muscle tissue and muscle
strength), ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, poor wound healing, low potassium, bruising, thinning of skin, changes in menstrual cycle, acne, hair growth, anxiety, and insomnia.
Doctors avoid prescribing steroids unless necessary because WHEN USED LONG-TERM steroid therapy has so many possible consequences. However, for many people with lung disease steroid medication is quite helpful and when needed should not be overly feared.