Steroid withdrawal symptoms can mimic many other medical problems. Weakness, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (which can lead to fluid and electrolyte abnormalities), and abdominal pain are common. Blood pressure can become too low, leading to dizziness or fainting. Blood sugar levels may drop. Women also may note menstrual changes. Less often, joint pain, muscle aches, fever, mental changes, or elevations of calcium may be noted. Decrease in gastrointestinal contractions can occur, leading to dilation of the intestine (ileus).
Steroid use cannot be stopped abruptly; tapering the drug gives the adrenal glands time to return to their normal patterns of secretion.
Tapering may not completely prevent withdrawal symptoms; steroid withdrawal may involve many factors, including a true physiological dependence on corticosteroids.