What are steroids?
They are synthetic drugs i.e. artificially made drugs that have a close resemblance to cortisol that is a hormone produced naturally by the human body. Steroids are shortened form of corticosteroids, and they perform their action by mitigating inflammation and minimizing the activity of the immune system. Anabolic steroids are used to build muscle, not all steroids are the same, anabolic steroids are different to corticosteroids.
How are they administered?
Steroids can be administered in the form of ointments or cream, they can be applied orally or can be injected as well. They can also be injected into a muscle.
They act as anti-inflammatory substances and decrease the immune response of the body. Inflammation is a process in which the body is protected against infections and their causative agents like bacteria & viruses by the virtue of WBC (White blood cells) and various chemicals. Many a times in some disease body’s immune system become hyperactive and does not work in accordance to the body need. Moreover, this is the time when our body’s defence system (immune system) begins to work again its tissues and damages them. The resulting inflammation is devoted by warmth, redness, pain & swelling.
Steroids lower down the production of the chemicals, which cause inflammation to control; the damage of the tissues to a much extent. Steroids also minimize the hyperactivity of the immune system by regulating the functionality of WBC.
Various possible health issues created by the use of anabolic steroids abuse:
Endocrine system (Hormones)
• Abnormal growth of body hair
• Male-pattern baldness
• Enlargement of the clitoris
• Breast development
• Shrinking of testes
• High blood pressure
• Cardiac arrests
• Increase in LDL
• Decrease in HDL
• Enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle
• Oily skin
• Severe cysts, acne,& pimples
• Fluid retention
• Rupture of tendons
• Dwarfism (if consumed by adolescents)
• Fragile bones
• Aggression, anger
There can be many side effects when steroids are used for a long time. However, if you take certain steps/measures, you can avoid falling prey to these side effects:
You may be devoid of a sound slumber due to the use of steroids, especially if you administer them in the evening
• Weight Loss
Your metabolism is affected by the use of steroids. It may result in an increased appetite leading to the deposition of love handles around your abdomen.
Prolonged use of steroids can permanently damage your immune system and makes you vulnerable to various infections.
• Gastrointestinal ulcers or bleeding
Steroids if taken along with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and gastric ulcers.
• Mood swings
You may be depressed, feel anxious or irritable for no clear reasons, especially if dose of 30 milligrams per day is taken.
• Eye problems
Steroids can even cause glaucoma or cataract, which may further results into permanent blindness.
• Elevated blood sugar
Prolonged use of steroids may result in increased blood sugar level or even diabetes
• Aseptic necrosis
Higher doses of steroids can lead to a phenomenon called “aseptic necrosis” in which parts of bone die, though this can happen in any bone, but the bone at the hip joints is the most common target.
• Enlargement of the prostate glands
However, this is only a possible side effect but according to a recent research, steroids can potentially cause enlargement of the prostate. Therefore, this can be stopped by not using the anabolic steroids.
• High blood pressure
To avoid all aerobic activity at the time of performance athletes use steroids. But, this makes the body work much harder for the circulation of blood. This increases the blood pressure. Furthermore, the H2O (water) and Na (Sodium) retention induced by certain steroids can also lead to high blood pressure. Therefore, a regular check-up is the best remedy to avoid high blood pressure related problems.
If a person is genetically predisposed towards going bald, the steroids can also increase the rate of going process.
Overdose of steroids make the bones fragile and thus increases the risk of fracture. Therefore, before administering steroids, many physicians advise their patients to have a bone density test and ask them to repeat it in the future to check on degradation of bones.
• Atherosclerosis (Hardening of the Arteries)
Prolonged use of steroids may result in hardening of the arteries better known as Atherosclerosis, which makes the heart more prone to cardiac arrest. Risk further increases if the steroids are regularly taken for more than a year.
• Stunted growth
Higher doses & prolonged uses of steroids, especially when used in adolescents, children’s & young adults, may result in stunted growth. Though this is the case with certain steroids only and not with others. Many steroids have shown improved growth rates in children when administered in proper quantities.
• Fluid retention
Since cortisone (a naturally occurring hormone similar to steroids) has a significant role in regulating the balance of H2O, Na and other electrolytes in the body, the use of these steroids can help in the retention of the fluids but on the other hand, it may cause you high blood pressure.
• Steroid withdrawal syndrome
If you have been using steroids for quite a long time and you stop using them at once, then you suffer steroid withdrawal syndrome. This includes joint pain, stiffness in muscles, fatigue, muscle tenderness or it can even make you feverish. Therefore, steroids should never be discontinued suddenly, but must be withdrawn slowly to make the body acclimatize to the new and changing conditions.
• Altered response to physical stress
If the usage of steroids is withdrawn suddenly after, your body has become habitual of their administration then your body may not be able to respond to the physical stress. Your blood pressure could become low along with other physical effects, which can be very dangerous.