Steroid drugs are a class of synthetic compounds that act to mimic hormones that occur naturally within the body, such as testosterone. There are three major types of steroids: anabolic, androgenic and corticosteroids. Androgenic steroids and corticosteroids are typically utilized in the treatment of a number of medical conditions. Anabolic steroids, which may be used to treat certain medical conditions, are the type of steroids abused by some athletes and weightlifters.
Long-term use of steroids can have several consequences. If steroids are taken as prescribed or abused for an extended period of time, certain people may have problems involving growth and development. Children in particular are at an increased risk of severe growth inhibition, which may delay the onset of puberty or can influence growth factors such as height.
People who take prescription steroids or abuse steroids may experience an increase in body weight. Steroids may influence the levels of salt or water that the body retains and can cause increased amount of fat to build up around the face, stomach or upper back, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Steroids can also stimulate your appetite, which may cause you to eat more food than your body needs. Legitimate or illegal use of steroids may cause a number of behavioral changes to occur in certain people.
Severe mood swings—which may include episodes of depression, irritability, hostility or aggression—may severely impact the social and work relationships of people who use steroids. In certain people, steroid use can cause chronically high levels of blood sugar to circulate throughout the body. High blood sugar levels may lead to the development of diabetes in certain people. Diabetes is a medical condition characterized by the inability of the body to effectively regulate blood sugar levels.
Long-term side effects of steroid use may include liver or heart damage in certain people, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy 2. Men and women who use steroids are at an increased risk of heart attack, high cholesterol levels and liver cancer. Certain people who take steroids may also develop high blood pressure or jaundice. Steroid use may lead to a number of sexual and reproductive disorders in both men and women.
The U. Department of Justice Office of Diversion Control notes that men who take steroids may experience long-term side effects such as a decreased sex drive, diminished sperm count, breast and prostate enlargement, decreased hormone levels or sterility 1. Women who use steroids may experience irregular menstrual cycles or infertility. Some women may begin to develop masculine qualities, such as facial hair or a permanently deepened voice. Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing.
Her work has appeared in various online publications. This can cause symptoms and health problems such as drops in blood pressure, as well as chemical changes in the blood such as high potassium or low sodium. Sometimes this can be set off by injuries or a surgical procedure. Because of this, make sure your doctors always know if you have been treated with steroids in the past, especially in the past year, so they can be on the alert for the development of adrenal insufficiency at times such as a surgical procedure.
Long-term steroids can suppress the protective role of your immune system and increase your risk of infection. Steroids may increase your risk of developing ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding, especially if you take these medications along with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen or aspirin. If you are on low-dose aspirin for heart protection, your physician may want you to continue this when you take the prednisone, but might consdier adding a medication for stomach protection during the course of steroids.
Steroid therapy can cause thinning of the bones osteopenia and osteoporosis , and increase the risk of bone fractures. At the beginning or before your steroid therapy, many patients will be asked to have a bone density test, especially if the steroid dose is high. If density is low, the bone density study It will be repeated in the future to assess the effectiveness of measures you will be using to prevent bone loss.
Steroids affect your metabolism and how your body deposits fat. This can increase your appetite, leading to weight gain, and in particular lead to extra deposits of fat in your abdomen. Steroids, especially in doses over 30 milligrams per day, can affect your mood. Just being aware that steroids can do this sometimes makes it less of a problem.
Sometimes, this side effect requires that the steroid dosage be decreased. When the steroids are absolutely necessary, sometimes another medication can be added to help with the mood problem. Make sure your family knows about this possible side effect. Because cortisone is involved in regulating the body's balance of water, sodium, and other electrolytes, using these drugs can promote fluid retention and sometimes cause or worsen high blood pressure.
Since cortisone is involved in maintaining normal levels of glucose sugar in the blood, long-term use may lead to elevated blood sugar or even diabetes. It is possible that steroids may increase the rate of "hardening of the arteries," which could increase the risk of heart disease.
This risk is probably much more significant if steroids are taken for more than a year, and if taken in high dose. By Theodore R. Theodore R. In-person and virtual physician appointments. Book online. Urgent Ortho Care.
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