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Taking Steroids: What to Consider When Traveling

Dec 19, 2019
Core Spirit member since Aug 13, 2019
Reading time 5 min.

Taking Steroids: What to Consider When Traveling

Steroids are synthetic hormones used as anti-inflammatory medicine to treat a variety of conditions. When taken in higher doses than what the body produces, they reduce inflammation and redness. The effect helps with inflammatory conditions such as eczema and asthma. They also reduce the activity of the immune system, which is the body’s defence against infections and illness.

Many patients with these conditions receive prescribed steroids. According to a study, the most commonly prescribed steroids are dexamethasone and prednisolone that suppress inflammation and relieve pain and symptoms in these conditions. right

How are steroids beneficial?

The most common way to administer steroids is via injection using a needle. The drug goes directly to the bloodstream or the muscle. One such injectable steroid is Sustanon, used for men with low testosterone levels. Other ways of administration include pills, gel tabs, and creams that each treat various conditions according to their forms of administration.

Steroids can also be organ-saving and lifesaving when inflammation threatens to damage critical body organs. For example, in lupus or vasculitis, steroids prevent worsening of kidney inflammation that could lead to possible kidney failure. Therefore, steroids eliminate the need for a kidney transplant or dialysis. Low doses of steroids significantly reduce pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, while short-term uses of higher doses treat severe arthritis.

Determining if steroids are the right treatment

The decision to prescribe steroids varies according to an individual. The determining factors are age, physical activity, and other prescribed medicines. The doctor has to make sure you understand the potential benefits and risks associated with steroids before you take them.

Potential benefits and risks vary with the presence or absence of other medical conditions, presence or absence of treatment alternatives, and the nature or severity of the disease treated.

Things to know when using steroids

You mustn’t stop the prescription abruptly if you have been on medication for over three weeks because long-term use of steroids stops the body from producing its hormonal steroids. Suddenly stopping the steroids catches the body by surprise and gives it no time to build its steroids. The result of this can be fatal. Gradually reduce the dosage to allow your body to produce its natural steroids when it is time to stop treatment. Also, always follow the doctor’s instructions.

Carry a blue steroid card if you need to take steroids for more than three weeks. Always carry this and show it to anyone who treats you because it may affect other medicinal treatments prescribed.

If you become unwell when taking steroids, do not stop taking them unless advised by a doctor. You benefit from an increase in steroids when a condition like arthritis deteriorates. Always seek medical attention if you are not able to take your prescribed steroids, as the results can be fatal.

Essential things to consider when travelling with steroids

Many travellers suffer from severe or chronic health conditions that require the use of steroids. Leaving these steroids behind is never an option.

The first thing you should do when planning to travel abroad is to consult your doctor to ensure that you are fit and talk about the health requirements you may have. They are essential in determining any special steroid requirement you might need.

Another critical requirement is to check what rules apply to take steroids in the country you want to visit, including the countries you pass through during your travels. Different countries have different rules regarding steroids and the maximum quantity you can possess.

What International law on drugs states:

Anyone travelling should have a doctor’s letter.

Travellers can carry medicine for personal use for one month.

Some medicines are available and allowed in some countries and controlled in others.

Searching for the destination country can be difficult while their websites that deal with questions relating to their rules can be hard to interpret. Because international laws vary, you should contact the country’s embassy for information regarding their travel-with-medicine regulations. Knowing what to expect from the destination country minimizes the risks. Violating a country’s laws can lead to severe consequences ranging from stiff penalties to confiscation of the prescribed medicines that could interfere with your treatment.

Basic rules to follow when travelling with steroids

When traveling with steroids, these are the things to follow:

Check the INCB guidelines on traveling with medications. It provides general information about country regulations for travellers in possession of controlled substances.

Contact the country’s foreign embassy for all the countries you intend to visit or are along the way to your destination. Ensure that your medicines are legal in the country.

Many countries’ medical recommendations include a valid medical certificate or essential medical prescription with only a month’s medical supply for their visitors.

Steroid medications tend to be illegal in many countries. If this is the case in your final destination, then seek alternative medicine, change your first destination, and travel somewhere else. Have your physician write providing a full description of the treatment plan and entire medical condition.

Ensure you get all the vaccines you need during the travel period. Different destinations require visitors to receive vaccines for various medical diseases. You should get your vaccinations in a month or a month and 2 weeks before going on your journey.

Talk to your doctor to provide you with enough steroids for your trip. Insurance companies often pay for a month’s supply of prescription steroids.

Seek more information regarding the safety of prescription medicines, especially about storage while on the road as extreme temperatures reduce effectiveness.

Put all your medication in a purse or luggage bag that you take with you everywhere. Suitcases are quite easy to lose, and storing them there increases the risk of losing them.

Carry enough treatment for the travel period, and you can add extra medicines for emergencies such as delays.

Keep your steroids in their labelled containers in combination with your passport name, doctor’s name, the dosage, and brand name.

Make a prescription copy and leave it behind with a friend as you might lose the current one in your travel activities.

Carry a note from your doctor that is in the destination country’s national language.


Having a medical condition should not prevent anybody from travelling. With proper planning and with adequate information, you can go with your steroids and not have to skip treatment. Always ensure that you understand each county’s regulations on steroids before you visit, to keep you on the right side of the law.

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