Harmful effects of steroids: Why you should stay away from steroids

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Harmful effects stay away from steroids

Harmful effects of steroids: Why you should stay away from steroids:

Steroids may be defined as one of a large group of chemical substances classified by a specific carbon structure. They include drugs used to relieve swelling and inflammation.

What do steroids do or how do they work?

Steroids won’t surely cure your disease, but they’re very good at lessening inflammation and will soothe symptoms such as swelling, pain, and stiffness. Usually, inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to infection or bacteria. Your immune system produces extra fluid to fight infections or bacteria, which causes swelling, redness, and heat in the affected area. You might have noticed this if you have had a cut or wound on your skin. In some conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system produces inflammation in the joints or other parts of the body by mistake, which can cause permanent damage if left untreated. Steroids can be used to reduce this immune reaction.


Types of steroids

Steroids can be divided into two categories.

1. Corticosteroids

They’re medicines that quickly fight infection in your body. These man-made steroids work as hormone cortisol, which your adrenal glands make. Cortisol keeps your immune system from making substances that cause inflammation. Corticosteroid drugs, like prednisone, work similarly. They slow or stop the immune system processes that trigger inflammation.

2.  Anabolic steroids

They’re man-made versions of testosterone, a male sex hormone that helps to produce bigger muscles. You take them by mouth as a tablet or get a shot into a muscle by an injection. A doctor can prescribe them if your body doesn’t make enough testosterone. An example would be boys with delayed puberty. Doctors also prescribe them to individuals who lose muscle mass due to cancer, AIDS, and other health conditions.

Types of steroids

The dark side of steroids

Steroids come in many different forms.

  • Tablets, syrups, and liquids – like prednisolone
  • Inhalers and nasal sprays – like beclomethasone and fluticasone
  • Injections (given into joints, muscles or blood vessels) – like methylprednisolone
  • Creams, lotions, and gels – like hydrocortisone skin cream

Harmful effects of steroids

Steroids can have many harmful side effects if used illegally, without a doctor’s prescription or for a long time.


1. Side effects of oral steroids

  • Acne
  • Blurred vision
  • Cataracts or glaucoma
  • Easy bruising
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased appetite, weight gain
  • Increased growth of body hair
  • Insomnia
  • Lower resistance to infection
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nervousness, restlessness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stomach irritation or bleeding
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Swollen, puffy face
  • Water retention, swelling
  • Worsening of diabetes

2. Side effects of steroid tablets

  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Increased appetite, which could lead to weight gain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in mood and behavior, such as feeling irritable or anxious
  • An increased risk of infections – especially chickenpox, shingles, and measles
  • High blood sugar or diabetes
  • The weakening of the bones (osteoporosis)
  • High blood pressure
  • Cushing’s syndrome – which can cause symptoms such as thin-skin that bruises easily, a build-up of fat on the neck and shoulders and a red, puffy, rounded face
  • Eye conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts
  • Mental health problems, such as depression or suicidal thoughts

Harmful effects of steroids

3. Harmful effects of steroids inhalers

  • A sore mouth or throat
  • A hoarse or croaky voice
  • A cough
  • Oral thrush – a fungal infection that causes white patches, redness, and soreness in the mouth
  • Nosebleeds

4. Side effects of steroid nasal sprays

  • A burning sensation in the nose
  • Dryness and crustiness in the nose
  • A dry, irritated throat
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Itchiness, redness, and swelling in the nose
  • Nosebleeds

5. Side effects of steroid injections

  • Pain and discomfort for a few days – paracetamol may help with this
  • Temporary bruising or a collection of blood under the skin
  • Flushing of the face for a few hours
  • An infection, causing redness, swelling and pain – get medical advice ASAP if you have got these symptoms
  • A loss of fat where the injection was given – this may cause dimples in the skin and can be permanent
  • Paler skin near the area of the injection – this can be permanent
  • If you have diabetes, your blood sugar level may increase
  • If you have high blood pressure, your blood pressure may increase

6. Side effects of steroid creams

  • Worsening or spreading of a skin infection you already have
  • Inflamed hair follicles (folliculitis)
  • Thinning of the skin, which can make the affected skin more vulnerable to damage; for example, you may bruise more easily
  • Stretch marks, which are likely to be permanent, they may become discreet over time
  • Contact dermatitis, which may be a skin irritation caused as an allergic reaction to the substances during a particular topical corticosteroid
  • Acne, or worsening of acne
  • Rosacea, which is a condition that causes the face to become red and flushed
  • Changes in skin color – this is usually more noticeable in people with dark skin
  • Excessive hair growth on the site of skin being treated
  • Reduced growth in children
  • Cushing’s syndrome

Side effects of steroids

Long term effects caused by steroids

  • Kidney problems or failure
  • Liver damage and tumors
  • Enlarged heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol, all of which increases the danger of stroke and attack, even in children or teens
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Brittle bones that break easily (osteoporosis)

Several other effects are gender- and age-specific

Several other effects: steroids

1. In men

  • Shrinking testicles
  • Decreased sperm count
  • Baldness
  • Development of breasts
  • Increased risk for prostate cancer

2. In women

  • Excess body hair
  • Decreased breast size
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Changes in or stop in the menstrual cycle
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Deepened voice

3. In teens

  • Stunted growth (when high hormone levels from steroids signal to the body to prevent bone growth too early)
  • Restricted height (if teens use steroids before their growth spurt)


Conclusion: steroids

The effects of steroid use can vary widely, and therefore the full spectrum of side effects is often present even in patients taking low doses. Practitioners must remember that the drug can exacerbate a preexisting condition or present a new medical condition. Knowledge of the clinical implications of prescribing these agents is critical.


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