Do you ever know about steroids? So, corticosteroids, or commonly just called as steroids, are the anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs are the synthetic forms of the cortisone, a hormone that produced in your adrenal glands. There are many types of steroids that you could find in the counter, such as prednisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, dexamethasone, and hydrocortisone. Aside from its many types, steroids are also available in many forms, the common forms of the steroids are oral steroids and topical steroids.
But, do you know that taking the steroids for several periods of time and a high dose could bring you various health risks? Yes, here are various health risks of taking the steroids in along period of time and in a high dose:
- Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome
If you have already become addicted to using steroid, you will be more likely to suffer from steroid withdrawal syndrome. This syndrome would likely to occur whenever you take this medication for at least two weeks or more than that. The symptom that you have the steroid withdrawal syndrome including joint pain, fatigue, muscle stiffness, muscle tenderness, and fever. So, the use of steroids couldn’t be stopped suddenly, but instead you must reduce the dose slowly but sure.
To overcome this steroid withdrawal syndrome, you need to have the consultation with the doctor regularly. You could ask them about the right dose to decrease the use of steroids step by step. This is because the sudden decrease of the amount of the steroid that you take could make you suffer from the adverse effects from it. Sometimes, the adverse effects are more dangerous than the side effects of the steroids.
If you already get used to take the steroid medications in a long time, you will be more likely to suffer from various infections. Why is that happening? This is because when you already use steroids for a long time, the steroids would suppress the protective role of your immune system and the result, there is no doubt that you become really prone to various infections.
So, to overcome this situation, having a regular consultation with your doctor would be the wise choice. Ask your doctor about the possibility of having the vaccination to prevent yourself from pneumonia. Also, always seek the medical attention as soon as possible when you have the sign of fever, pain while you have the urination, and other infections. In addition to that, you need to report your doctor if you have the history of tuberculosis.
- Gastrointernal Ulcers and Bleeding
Whenever you already use the steroids in such a long time, you will also probably will suffer from the gastrointernal ulcers and bleeding. The possibility of you having this disease would be higher if you take the steroids alongside the non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and also ibuprofen. To overcome this problem, it is better if you take the steroids alongside with antacid soon after you have the meal because those combination could reduce the irritation around the stomach. But remember, you need to seek the medical treatment as soon as possible if you’re suffering from severe abdominal pain alongside with black or bloody stools.
- Weight Gain
There is no doubt that there is a connection between the use of steroids and the weight gain. This is because the steroids will affect the metabolism of the body and also will affect the ways the body deposit the fat. Because steroids could affect the body metabolism, it is no doubt that your appetite would be increased and if you can’t control it, the fat that accumulated in your body would be increased too and you will gain some weight as the result.
To overcome this accident, you need to make sure that you always watch out the calories from the foods that you consume. In addition to that, you also need to do some exercises to burn the calories. The good news is, after about six months you no longer use the steroids, you will lose some weight.
- Mood Changes
This is another health risk that will occur whenever you consume the steroids in a long time. Steroids will make your mood changes in a lot of times. If you consume the steroids about 30 milligrams per day, steroids definitely can affect your mood. Some people will feel depressed, some people will feel extremely happy without any apparent reason, and some people will feel the anxiety throughout the day.
So, to solve this health risk of the steroids, you need to reduce the dosage of the steroids that you consume. But, in case that the relatively large dosage of steroids is necessary, it is really essential to consume other medications too to help your mood problem. Always tell your family about this health risk whenever you take the steroids so that they can understand you and they can detect whenever you face some behavioral changes for a while.
Actually, there is a link between the steroids use and insomnia. This is because steroids could impair your ability to fall asleep, especially when they are taken in the evening. After the use of steroids, you will feel a little bit harder to fall asleep. So, to overcome this problem, you need to start asking your doctor whether you could take the entire dosage in the morning. But, in case that you really need to take the dosage in the evening, make sure that you consume it at the time that allow you to prepare yourself to sleep. You need to make sure that you have the environment that support you to sleep, such as dark and clean bedroom, and then silent and cool room also.
- Fluid Retention and High Blood Pressure
These two conditions couldn’t be avoided whenever you decide to take steroids on a regular basis over periods of time. This is because the cortisone is very essential to regulate the body’s balance of water, sodium, and other electrolytes. So, using the corticosteroids without a doubt would increase the chance of fluid retention and also the elevation in your blood pressure, which then will cause the high blood pressure.
So, to overcome this disease, you need to take to low-sodium diet, so that your blood pressure wouldn’t be elevated anymore. Whenever you have the history of hypertension, you need to check your condition regularly with the doctor. The consumption of diuretics would be beneficial too.
- High Blood Sugar
Aside from elevated blood pressure and fluid retention, your body will suffer from the elevated blood sugar, which then will cause the high blood sugar and its complications, such as diabetes. This is because the cortisone is involved to maintain the normal levels of glucose in the blood, and using the corticosteroids without a doubt could elevate the blood sugar level in your blood that can lead to diabetes.
To overcome this problem, all you need is always check your blood sugar level to your doctor regularly whenever you take the steroids. Make sure that you balance it with the healthy lifestyle and eat foods that contains a small amount of sugar, so that you will stay away from diabetes although you’re taking steroids.
- Eye Disease
Another health risks that you would like to suffer whenever you take the steroids over several periods of time regularly is the eye disease. Many health experts say that sometimes steroids could lead you to eye diseases such as cataract and glaucoma, although the direct connection between steroids and eye diseases is still unknown.
So, if you have the history of cataract and glaucoma, you need to tell your doctor that you’re taking steroids so that you will have the medical check-up periodically. Steroids sometimes could also cause the blurred vision but it is temporary and not serious at all. But if you develop the visual problems, you shouldn’t hesitate to see your doctor as soon as possible.
There is no doubt that whenever you decide to take on steroids, the chance of you having the atherosclerosis would be higher too. This atherosclerosis, of course, will lead you to more serious problems such as heart disease. But, you need to remember that you will have the atherosclerosis if you’re already taking the steroids for a long time and also, with the high dose too.
To overcome this problem, you need follow the healthy lifestyle, which means that you must eat the foods that has the low level of calories and cholesterol, and then you also need to have the regular physical activity or exercise during the day. In addition to that, you need to manage your stress and make sure that you check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly to your doctor.
- Aseptic Necrosis
The high intake and the high dose of steroids would increase your risk of developing the disease called aseptic necrosis. So, aseptic necrosis is the form of damage that occur in your bones, particularly the bone that located at the hip joint and the hip pain could be the first sign of this disease. The only way to overcome this disease is that you need to seek the medical treatment as soon as possible whenever you have some pain in your groin, because actually the hip joint is located in your groin.
As you already know before that steroids turns out can affect the health of your bones. The steroid therapy turns out could cause the bone thinning, which can make your bone become prone and weak. So, that’s why many physicians always induce the test to measure your bone density periodically whenever you’re about to have the steroid therapy. To overcome this thing, there are a lot of things that you should do as the prevention act. You could do the following tips if you want to reduce the risk of osteoporosis while you’re taking on steroids:
- You need to take the calcium supplement, or foods that contain a lot of calcium, such as milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
- You need to stop smoking and consuming alcohol since those two are the factors that can stimulate the osteoporosis.
- Always have the weight bearing exercise like walking, running, and other physical things because those activities could maintain the density of your bones.
- Altered Response to Physical Stress
This is one of the main problems that will occur whenever you decide to take steroids. Your body will be having some kind of reduction to response against the physical stress because your adrenal glands would not react as they should be. In the matter of fact, this effect could be continued long even after you’re not taking the steroids anymore. Your body will not be able to respond to the physical stress whenever you’re developing the new illness, and then whenever you experience a serious trauma, which is very dangerous.
To overcome this thing, just make sure that you have the doctor recommendation and approval so that they could recommend you the perfect dose that you should take. You may need a high dose of steroids whenever you face the major stress, such as surgery or serious infections.
- Disrupts the Production of Hormones
Aside from affecting your bones, the constant consumption of steroids could also disrupt the normal production of hormones in your body. Specifically, the use of steroids among men could reduced the sperm production and shrinking the testicles too. In addition to that, the use of steroids could also affect the breast development in men, which often called as gynecomastia. In the matter of fact, about half of the bodybuilders who use the steroids suffers from one of those things that already mentioned above.
On the other hand, taking on steroids could also affect the hormones among women too. In fact, the anabolic steroids could make the masculinization among women, which means that their breast size and body fat would be reduced, the clitoris enlarges, and their voice become deeper than before too. In addition to that, some women might will experience the excessive growth of the body hair but will lose the hair in their scalp.
- Musculoskeletal System
Since the steroids could affect the hormones, there is no doubt that steroids could also affect the musculoskeletal system too. Raising level of hormones such as testosterone and other sex hormones normally would trigger the growth of spurt that occur during the puberty and adolescence, as well as producing the signal to stop the growth of the body too. So, whenever the children are already consuming the anabolic steroids, they sex hormones would increase gradually and they can prematurely signal the bone to stop growing.
- Bacterial and Viral Infections
This also without a doubt would occur to you whenever you decide to take the steroids. So, whenever people inject some steroids into their body, especially whenever they conduct the unsterilized and illegal steroids injections. Those kind of things without a doubt would lead you to various infections that classified as the life-threatening, such as viral infections like HIV, and hepatitis B or hepatitis C. In addition to that, the people who injected the steroids without the doctor recommendation and with the wrong way could develop endocarditis, a kind of bacterial infection that causes a fatal inflammation in the inner lining of the heart. This bacterial infections could cause a lot of pain too.
- Cardiovascular Disease
Actually, there is a link between the steroids and the cardiovascular disease. This is because steroids are contributed to the development of cardiovascular disease by changing the lipoprotein levels that has the main function to carry the cholesterol through the blood. Whenever you take the steroids, the level of the LDL cholesterol, which is a bad cholesterol, would be increased. On the contrary, the HDL cholesterol level, which is the good cholesterol, would be decreased. This is without a doubt could lead you to various complications disease such as heart disease and this condition will also interrupt the blood flow in your arteries, which absolutely will lead you to brain disease such as stroke, for example.
- Skin Problem
You might be noticed that the people who take the steroids would be more likely to suffer from the problems associated with their skin. This is because the use of steroids could affect the hormones, which then of course will make some changes related to the health of your skin. You will be more prone to suffer from cystic acne, and then your hair and skin would be more oily than before, which without a doubt would make you become very susceptible to suffer from acne and cysts.
Are Steroid Medicines Dangerous?
Well, after you know all off the health risks whenever you take the steroids medicine, you might have some thoughts that steroid medicine are really dangerous for your health. But, is it true that the steroid medicine are dangerous? Well, steroid medicine is just like any other medicine, who could be the lifesaving but has many side effects if you take it with a large dose and for several periods of time. When you use this steroid medicine for a short time, you will be safe from all of those health risks that already mentioned above.
So, your body will naturally make steroids by itself, but whenever you take the steroid medication for a long period of time, your body probably will stop making its own steroids. So, you just couldn’t quit using the steroid medicine in a single period, but you need to reduce the amount of the steroids medicine to avoid the steroid withdrawal symptoms.
How to Prevent Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms
So, after you know that the steroid medicine is generally safe whenever you take it for a short amount of time, you might be interested to use the steroid medicine whenever you need it the most. But, as already mentioned above, you need to be aware of the steroid withdrawal symptoms whenever you decide to take this medicine, such as dizziness, lightheaded, tired, stomach pain, and body aches. You shouldn’t worry to suffer from the steroid withdrawal symptoms if you’re following these useful tips:
- Never stop taking the steroids until your doctor tells you. So, it is very important that you always follow and do the exact same thing as the doctor recommends to you. Whenever the doctor tell you to keep taking the steroids, you need to take it as well as the opposite thing. It is very essential if you have the fixed schedule to meet with your doctor.
- Don’t take any medicines whenever you take steroids. This is also very important because taking other medicines, such as over-the-counter medicines could make some side effects to you. If you want to do so, you need to make sure to contact your doctor first and ask their recommendation.
- Always tell other people that you take steroids. This is also important and you need to tell your relatives, friends, and healthcare that you’re taking steroids. Whenever you already tell them, they will know the reason whenever you suddenly become unconscious for some reasons.
- Tell the doctor if you feel sick because of steroids. The last thing that you should do to avoid the steroid withdrawal symptoms is telling your doctor straight away whenever you feel sick if your steroid medicine is reduced.
Now you already know everything that you need to know related to the health risks of steroids. Although taking steroids apparently have so many health risks, but as long as you take it for a short amount of time, steroids would be safe for your health. So, it is up to you to take it wisely and remember, stay healthy and improve your healthy lifestyle.