Are Steroids Bad?
Steroid drugs are used for the treatment of many diseases, in turn they show adverse effects by suppressing the immune system. Steroid can be given orally or administered intramuscular or intravenously. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs used in the treatment of asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, eczema and rashes and some types of cancer. Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances associated with male sex hormones, used for the treatment of heart diseases, liver problems, aggressive behavior, acne and cysts, voice deepening, shrinking of testicles in men and breast growth.
Though steroids are used for the treatment of many ailments, they have some short term and long term side-effects. The some common side effects such as:
- Increased blood pressure
- Hair loss
- Decrease in HDL cholesterol (Good cholesterol)
- Increase in LDL cholesterol (Bad cholesterol)
Short-term side effects
It causes some temporary side effects such as changes in mood and behavior, difficulty in sleeping, flushing (redness) of the face, weight gain due to increased water retention. Discontinuing the use of steroids may resolve these side effects within few days. Some other side effects have been reported that includes increased blood sugar level in people with diabetes mellitus, worsen the condition of congestive heart failure people and increased eye pressure in glaucoma patients.
Long-term side effects
Long term use of steroids can cause serious side effects, that includes:
- High-blood pressure
- Diabetes mellitus
- Heart disease
- Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones
- Cushing syndrome
- Certain kinds of infections
- Acid reflux/GERD
Negative side effects of steroids
- High blood pressure: steroids increase the number of red blood cells that leads to increase in blood pressure. Water retention is also possible due to its high dose, caused by the aromatization of steroids to estrogen. Elevated levels of estrogen is responsible for high blood pressure.
- High cholesterol: high dose can show adverse effects on cholesterol levels. Healthy diet and changes in lifestyle can reduce this side effect. The high estrogen level is also related to high cholesterol.
- Testosterone suppression/ Testicular atrophy: This side effect can be observed when steroids are introduced exogenous, the body ceases the production of endogenous testosterone.
- Hair Loss: It may occur due to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), that can eliminate hair follicles.
- Gynecomastia: It happens due to the elevated levels of estrogen, cause abnormal growth of breast tissues in males.
- Virilization: This is the masculinizing effect which occurs in women such as increased body hair growth, increased sex drive, clitoral enlargement and deepening of the voice.
Some of the other side-effects includes increased appetite, anxiety, increased libido, irregular hair growth, sexual problems, decreased sperm production, depression, sleeping troubles, mania, psychological dependence, personality changes, and fluid retention. Hence steroids should be consumed on doctor’s prescription only.