In March 2017, 13-year-old Joseph was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. He has been undergoing treatment at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool ever since. “He was really, really poorly,” Joseph’s mother, Helen, tells me. “He needed the steroids – there was no getting around that – but one of the side-effects of long-term steroid use is that your body can stop producing its own cortisol.”
In effect, his adrenal glands went to sleep. To replace the lost cortisol, a hormone involved in metabolism and the immune system, Joseph also started taking hydrocortisone tablets in January 2018, and he’ll keep taking them until his adrenal glands start producing cortisol again.
Hydrocortisone, however, is one of many medicines that cause problems for children. In the UK, it is available as 10 mg or 20 mg tablets, and adults generally take two or three whole 10 mg tablets a day. […]
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