By suppressing the immune response and inflammation, steroids can keep a host of autoimmune diseases and allergic reactions from ravaging the body. They are the cornerstone of treatment for ailments like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, ulcerative colitis, temporal arteritis, psoriasis and even bad cases of poison ivy. But as with any powerful remedy, corticosteroids come with a downside: side effects that can sometimes be as serious as the ailments they are intended to treat. Last week I told about a friend with severe asthma who developed a rare complication that forced him to stop using the steroids that for decades had helped him breathe.
He was losing his vision to steroid-caused macular degeneration. He found an alternative nondrug therapy, the Buteyko breathing method, that seems to have kept him well and steroid-free for many months. But most people who depend on steroids are not so fortunate.
For them, using the drugs year in and year out is a balancing act between benefit and risk. Knowing what those risks are and how they can be minimized can help people who depend on steroids to be alert to early warning signs of trouble and to take measures to counteract it -- in many cases before any unwanted effects occur.
The likelihood of serious side effects depends on how long steroids are used, how they are taken, what type of corticosteroid is prescribed and how high the dose must be to keep the ailment under control. They tend to cause fewer complications when applied to the skin or when inhaled for days or weeks for an allergic reaction or asthma. Injected steroids or oral doses taken for months or years are far more likely to cause serious side effects, as are injected steroids. So, an over-the-counter steroid like hydrocortisone, applied to small areas of skin to relieve a mild case of dermatitis like poison ivy or eczema, is unlikely to have any untoward effects.
But when injected repeatedly into a muscle or joint, corticosteroids can cause weakening and degenerative changes that limit their usefulness in treating chronic athletic or overuse injuries. And if steroids are given intravenously, side effects may include insomnia, a metallic taste in the mouth, mood swings, nausea, rapid heartbeat and stomach irritation. In most people, chronic use of inhaled steroids, considered medically essential to control most cases of asthma, has few if any adverse effects.
Children may experience retarded growth, but studies have shown that they eventually catch up and achieve a normal height. The most common side effect, a fungal infection in the mouth called thrush, can be averted by using a spacer with the inhaler and rinsing the mouth with water afterward. When corticosteroids are taken orally for less than three months, they are associated with temporary side effects like depression, an increased appetite, insomnia, mood swings and weight gain partly from water retention.
Steroids taken orally for more than three months can have more profound and sometimes irreversible effects. Serious side effects are more likely when steroids are taken in high doses for a year or longer. In addition to weight gain, side effects may include high blood pressure, deteriorating bones that can result in osteoporosis, diabetes, thinning of the skin, muscle weakness, moon face caused by increased fat deposits, which may also occur in the stomach, chest and upper back , cataracts, glaucoma, ulcers, easy bruising, increased sweating, acne, arterial deposits that can lead to heart disease and, because of their effect on immunity, delayed healing of wounds and an increased risk of infection that can persist for a year or more after the medication is stopped.
Excess weight resulting from steroid use is normally lost within six months to a year after the drug is stopped and appetite returns to normal. When prescribed a corticosteroid, the most important thing is to follow dosing instructions to the letter. Use no more than is needed, and never abruptly stop steroids. Users must be careful and ensure that they liaise with a medical doctor for the best results.
Understanding the Pros and Cons of Anabolic Steroids. Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs that are meant to imitate testosterone and human growth hormone. They are prescribed by doctors to people with slow growth but they are also commonly used in fitness to boost the fast growth of muscles, fasten the recovery process, and increase strength.
Most anabolic steroids that are sold on the web are legit and legal while others are fake and can be extremely harmful to health. Pros of Using Anabolic Steroids Many manufacturers and sellers of anabolic steroids market them as very helpful for fitness. Together with medical experts, they say that steroids have the following pros: Weight loss and muscle gain - This is the ultimate goal of many athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
High level of human growth hormone and testosterone is combined with workouts and diet to promote fast loss and growth of more muscles. Hence, the athletes become ripped. Immense strength and endurance - More muscle mass and high level of oxygen supply increase strength and endurance, but this also works better when a person engages in workouts regularly, which is the case with sportspeople. Quick muscle recovery - Another main reason why athletes and fitness enthusiasts take steroids is to shorten the recovery process after extreme workouts.
With anabolic steroids in action , the growth of muscles and a high supply of oxygen is all that the muscles need to recover within a very short time. Cons of Anabolic Steroids On the flip side, there are tons of adverse effects that are caused by anabolic steroids. Risk of getting ill - Users increase chances of contracting illnesses such as hepatitis B, liver failure, heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
Besides that, there might be allergic reactions immediately or soon after using certain anabolic steroids.
Because steroids are addictive, this can lead to people cycling them for too long or simply overdosing. If you gain 30lbs taking dianabol, you might only keep 20lbs of this, as 10lbs might be from water retention. Many guys who take steroids and come off, shrink a lot. This is because many of these guys stop lifting weights. The most famous example of this is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who went from Mr Olympia to…saggy old man.
The reason you can retain this muscle you gain from steroids is because when you add muscle, your nuclei count in your muscle cell increases. So once you come off cycle, your testosterone levels may crash lower than ever before…but your nuclei count will remain the same.
Thus preventing you from losing all the muscle you just built. But the nuclei count would remain the same as before. After a lengthy break the equivalent of 10 years for a human , the mice resumed lifting weights again…. This view pisses off bodybuilders who do juice, because it pretty much discredits all their hard work.
Note : there are supplements you can take to minimize the risk of each of these side effects. The only way to find out if steroids are for you is to try them out yourself. Steroids help the body to produce more red blood cells. The red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the muscles and other parts of the body. With more red blood cells, the muscles can work longer and harder because there is a more consistent supply of oxygen, so endurance significantly increases. Muscles are also able to recover faster with the help of additional oxygen.
They increase power, strength, agility, and speed. Athletes and bodybuilders are able to improve their overall performance with the help of steroids. This gives them an edge over the competition, but it is also for his reason why performance enhancing drugs are banned from sports leagues and competitions.
They can give you a bigger and more muscular body. Studies show that steroids can increase body size, that is why they are popular with bodybuilders and those who want to bulk up. They can help with hormonal imbalances. Some doctors actually prescribe steroids for patients who have low testosterone levels. These drugs can help in maintaining a more normal level of testosterone when used under the supervision of a physician. They can become addictive.
Because of their ability to make bodies stronger, bigger, and faster, many athletes, bodybuilders, and weight lifters became addicted to steroids. Even if these drugs are illegal and banned from sports, some individuals find other ways to get them. They put you at a higher risk for certain health conditions. There have been reports about athletes who abused steroids and ended up suffering from heart attacks and strokes.
Users of steroids can also develop kidney and liver problems, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and tumors. They have harmful side effects. Performance enhancing drugs have several side effects. Men might also have to deal with infertility, shrunken testicles, and breast enlargements, while women may be prone to growing facial hair and baldness.
These drugs can also cause acne, and they also interrupt the growth spurt of boys Other known side effects are extreme depression and mood swings. They are illegal. In some states, you can be arrested for the possession or selling of steroids. There have also been professional athletes who have been stripped of their medals and awards and banned from their respective sports when it was proven that they used performance enhancing drugs.
So, do you think steroids should be legalized? Do you think they are okay to use if they are regulated properly and are done under the supervision of a doctor, despite their harmful side effects? Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience.