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Side Effects of Steroids

Side Effects of Steroids

Steroids and their side effects usually crop up in conversations regarding extraordinary athletic feats and suspiciously prominent muscle tone. Learn more on their hazards right here.
Arun Chitnis
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Steroids, a class of organic compounds, are man-made synthetic substances and relate to the sex hormone -- testosterone. It is found in both males and females but at a higher degree in males. They contain an arrangement of four cycloalkane rings joined to each other. They are classified as:
  • Corticosteroids (Inhaled, Oral, Injected)
  • Anabolic Steroids
Cortisone is a group of hormones that are produced naturally in the human body and helps in regulation of inflammation during injuries. These synthetic compounds are used by doctors to treat allergies, arthritis, asthma, and many more. They are quite different from anabolic steroids, which have been hyped as they are used by sportspersons and bodybuilders. Anabolic steroids increase the muscle mass and help in increasing the stamina of a person.

The medical uses of steroids include suppression of the human immune system so that certain other medicines can work. In this context, they can be useful medical tools and doctors provide for the side effects by medical means.
Side Effects
The side effects of steroids are legendary. There is categorical evidence which states that the detrimental effects of steroid use have ruined many lives. Anyone who uses steroids for a non-prescribed purpose is asking for trouble. Athletes abuse steroids because these drugs, which inhibit the production of natural hormones, have short-term performance boosting properties. In other words, it is possible to perform certain feats requiring unusual physical strength and endurance for a short period.

The adverse effects depend on the extent of their use and the user's preexisting condition. With extended use, they are always dangerous and can cause a number of extreme, long-lasting, and sometimes irreversible health problems.
Short-term Effects
Most of the people take steroids for a short period, but there is a chance that they can also face some side effects. These may be temporary and can go away with time.

Water Retention: It is an abnormal buildup of fluids in the circulatory system of body that can lead to severe problems.

Weight Gain: Intake of steroids increases the appetite of a person that results in weight gain.

Insomnia: High dosage of steroids creates changes in sleeping pattern caused by stress and anxiety, which leads to frightening dreams and insomnia.

Skin Rashes: Steroids can also be accountable for a lot of skin allergies and rashes for those who have sensitive skin.

Raised Blood Sugar Levels: Steroids disrupt the insulin activity of controlling glucose; moreover, it causes liver to produce more glucose, which increases the blood sugar levels.

Diarrhea: It is a condition of loose and liquid stools. One has to make frequent trips to the toilet when suffering from diarrhea.

Bruising: If steroids are taken through injections, then a person may have bruising in that area.

High Blood Pressure: Use of steroids increases the estrogen conversion and increases the level of water and salt in the body, which causes high blood pressure.

High Cholesterol: Steroids create an imbalance between the lipoproteins in the body, which increases the risk of developing high cholesterol levels.
Long-term Effects
People take steroids in huge amount and for a longer time so as to get some short-term results; however, they may have to suffer throughout their lives.

Brain Cancer: Intake of steroids for a long period can create clots/tumors in the brain, which increases the risk of brain cancer.

Severe Acne: The increase in activity of sebaceous glands due to steroid intake emits oil, causing acne on the face, shoulders, and back.

Weak Tendons: Steroids act as an outsource for providing testosterone; hence, the natural production of this hormone stops which results in weakening of tendons.

Jaundice: Prolonged utilization of steroids may lead to a rare hemorrhagic cystic degeneration of the liver, which leads to jaundice.

Gynecomastia: In this situation, men tend to develop breasts due to excess of estrogen -- a female hormone in their body. This feminine appearance is not only embarrassing but painful as well.

Stunted Growth: Steroids used at adolescence cause bones to mature too fast and then stops growing, resulting in stunted growth.

Impotence: The use of steroids can make a person impotent wherein one can't get proper erections during sexual intercourse.

Testicular Shrinkage: It is a severe condition in which the male testes diminishes in size and most of the time loses its functionality.

Liver Damage: There is sufficient scientific evidence to indicate that extended steroid use can and does lead to irreversible liver damage.

Deepening of Voice: Women who abuse steroids tend to get many characteristics of men as testosterone is being injected in their body; deepening of voice and Adam's apple are a couple of them.

Heart Attack: The fallout of steroids can also extend to premature heart attacks and strokes.

Reduction of Breasts: Women having steroids may face the problem of breast reduction due to change in the hormonal system of their body.

Kidney Disease: The steroidal compounds put a strain on the kidney that causes hurdles in the functioning, which can lead to kidney damage or failure.

Irregular Menstrual Cycle: Due to hormonal imbalance, many a time, a woman may observe irregularities in the menstrual cycle.

Male Pattern Baldness: Baldness and hair fall have been observed by many steroid abusers, in both men and women, due to overproduction of a hair inhibitor enzyme.

Facial and Body Hair Growth: A woman may observe a lot of facial as well as body hair growth just like men.
  • A person who is on steroids adopts a violent behavior, or has too many mood swings, which is known as the 'Roid Rage'.
  • One may also suffer from nausea, vomiting, palpitation, depression, hypertension, and so on.
  • Hallucination is also one of the side effects reported due to extensive use of steroids. In this, one may see people or hear voices, which are not in real; it is in his mind.
  • Use of steroids can also create an embarrassing situation as the person tends to have an oily scalp and bad breath all the time.
  • Steroids also interfere with cholesterol levels, though there is considerable dispute over whether this presents any serious health risk -- they often reduce LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein/bad cholesterol). Moreover, they can elevate HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein), which medical practitioners refer to as the 'good cholesterol' because it assists in protecting the arteries by delivering unused cholesterol to the liver, which breaks it down.
The upshot is that while the adverse effects are often not as extravagant as popular press makes them out to be, they certainly do tamper with the body's natural functioning. With excessive use, steroids can cause permanent and even fatal health damage.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.