Steroids are powerful medications that can be used to treat a variety of conditions, but they can also have serious side effects. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to taking steroids that can be just as effective. Dexamethasone is a suitable alternative to prednisone for the treatment of acute asthma. Methotrexate is used as a steroid-sparing agent for many diseases.
Enteral nutrition, or a special diet that only contains fluids, can also be used as an alternative to steroids to induce remission. This approach may be especially helpful for children when there is concern that steroids may affect growth. In adults, studies show that steroids work better at inducing remission than enteral therapy, but liquid diets or supplements can be used to support nutrition. If you prefer to try the liquid diet approach, discuss this with your healthcare team.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that something currently available can completely replace steroids, but sometimes other medications are also used to reduce prednisone dependence. These include methotrexate, Arava, and anti-TNF drugs such as Enbrel, Humira and Remicade. These medications are also very powerful and should be used with caution, but can sometimes have good effects when taken in small amounts or as a short-term alternative to prednisone.