Does steroids cause bloating? (+3 tips)

In this article, we will explore whether steroids can cause bloating or not, how steroids cause bloating, what factors contribute to steroids-induced bloating, how to get rid of steroid-induced bloating and when to consult your healthcare provider.

Does steroids cause bloating?

Yes, steroids can cause bloating in some individuals. Steroids may cause certain effects such as fluid retention that may be processed and bloating. In addition to this, steroids can also cause gastrointestinal effects that may lead to bloating.

Steroids are precursors of various hormones that are involved in various physiological processes. They can be anabolic steroids or corticosteroids. The use of anabolic steroids is illegal and harmful whereas corticosteroids are prescribed for conditions that require immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory response (1). 

If you are taking steroids for any of your medical conditions and experience bloating after it then it is important to consult your healthcare provider for it. They can guide you to the best treatment strategy.

How do steroids cause bloating?

The exact link between steroids and bloating is not yet determined. However, steroids are known to cause water retention due to the electrolyte imbalance of sodium and potassium (2). The water retention may cause abdominal swelling leading the patient towards bloating after taking steroidal medication.

Dexamethasone causes irritation in the lining of the stomach (3). This irritation and other gastrointestinal side effects of dexamethasone can cause the patient to feel bloated. Some steroids can also cause an increase in the appetite making the patient eat more causing a bloated stomach (4).

What factors can contribute to steroids-induced bloating?

Steroids can cause bloating in some individuals but they might not be the sole cause of bloating. Some other factors may also contribute to it. The most common factors are:

  • Higher doses are more commonly associated with increased side effects. Increased doses of steroids can cause bloating more commonly as compared to low-dose treatments.
  • Prolonged use of steroids makes the patient more susceptible to gastrointestinal side effects such as acid reflux or bloating.
  • Underlying medical health conditions can interact with the effects of steroid medication making you more susceptible to getting bloating. 
  • Concurrent medications can interact with steroids and cause bloating.
  • Lifestyle factors may also contribute to the effect of steroids.

Not every person taking steroids will experience bloating. The variation of effect among individuals may be attributed to certain other individual sensitivities. 

How to get rid of steroid-induced bloating?

If you are experiencing bloating as a side effect of steroids, you might consider these treatment strategies.

  • Drink plenty of water to maintain gastric health and alleviate bloating.
  • Incorporate more fibre-rich food in your diet gradually. They can help with the digestion.
  • Chew your food thoroughly to avoid intake of air and minimise digestive issues.
  • Consider taking probiotic-rich food such as yoghurt to help with digestive conditions.
  • Over-the-counter medications such as simethicone can be helpful in relieving gas and bloating (5).
  • A regular active lifestyle with exercise or yoga can also be helpful in maintaining a healthy gut.

When to consult your healthcare provider?

If bloating does not subside even after all the management strategies and weeks of treatment with steroids then it is essential to consult your healthcare provider about this side effect. As bloating can be a symptom of some other medical conditions.

If steroids are found to be the cause of bloating after a careful examination, then your doctor might have to adjust your current treatment plan. They might lower your dose of steroids. However, if lowering the dose does not help your case then you might be asked to switch your medication. 

Steroids can be of various types. Their classification is as follows.

Types of steroids Examples
Corticosteroids Prednisone, Dexamethasone, Hydrocortisone, Triamcinolone
Anabolic steroids Testosterone, Oxandrolone, Nandrolone
Glucocorticoids Cortisol, Prednisolone, Methylprednisolone
Mineralocorticoids Fludrocortisone, Aldosterone
Sex steroids Estrogen, pregesterone, Testosterone

In my experience

In my experience, steroids can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating. The cause of it might be the fluid retention effect of steroids or the other factors acting on the individual to add to the effect of steroids. If you experience this effect after taking steroids then it is important to consult your healthcare provider.

Open communication with your healthcare provider is crucial. You need to tell them about any of your medications that you might be taking with steroids or any other digestive condition you might be suffering from. It is necessary to ensure a safe and effective treatment plan. 

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Hodgens, A. (2023, May 1). Corticosteroids. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.


Ericson-Neilsen, W., & Kaye, A. D. (2014). Steroids: pharmacology, complications, and practice delivery issues. Ochsner journal, 14(2), 203–207.


Bandyopadhyay U, Biswas K, Bandyopadhyay D, Ganguly CK, Banerjee RK. Dexamethasone makes the gastric mucosa susceptible to ulceration by inhibiting prostaglandin synthetase and peroxidase–two important gastroprotective enzymes. Mol Cell Biochem. 1999 Dec;202(1-2):31-6. doi: 10.1023/a:1007018212822. PMID: 10705992.


Kuckuck, S., van der Valk, E. S., Scheurink, A. J. W., van der Voorn, B., Iyer, A. M., Visser, J. A., Delhanty, P. J. D., van den Berg, S. A. A., & van Rossum, E. F. C. (2023). Glucocorticoids, stress and eating: The mediating role of appetite-regulating hormones. Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 24(3), e13539.


Ingold, C. J. (2023, July 3). Simethicone. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.,control%20of%20excess%20gas%20production.