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Adverse events associated with steroid bursts. Unlike long-term corticosteroid use, which has known risks, the use of short-term (less than 14 days) steroid bursts for the treatment of skin disorders and upper respiratory conditions has been considered relatively safe. A recent study by Yao and colleagues, published July 7 online in Annals of Internal Medicine, provides evidence to the contrary; treatment durations as short as three days can cause serious adverse effects. In a retrospective analysis of 15 million Taiwanese patients, the researchers found that the 25% of patients who received corticosteroids had significantly increased rates of gastrointestinal bleeding, sepsis, and heart failure. These adverse effects happened in a primarily young (mean age 38) and healthy (85% had no comorbid conditions) population. Health care providers should carefully assess the risks and benefits of short-term corticosteroid use in their patients before prescribing steroid bursts.