The moment you say steroids, you instantly think of oral medication. Steroids are actually hormones which occur normally within the body and regularise certain body functions. Oral steroids are a different ball game altogether, although they basically have the same purpose. The kind of steroids that are used to treat disorders are known as corticosteroids, while the ones used by athletes to enhance performance have different and more severe side effects.
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Steroids when taken for short durations, can help treat conditions like inflammatory bowel disorder, autoimmune disorders, muscle and joint problems, asthma and allergies. In the long run, however, they tend to have long-lasting side effects which could take a toll on your both mentally and physically.
What are the side effects of steroids?
Well, technically, the many health benefits of steroids outweigh their ugly side effects. But if used for too long, steroids can leave behind irreparable damage. Here are some side effects that you need to keep in mind.
- Mood changes – Patients who have been on steroids for a while claim that the medication makes them feel good. However, long term use can lead to aggressive depression and other mental health problems. The effects are more pervasive if the dosage is high. As the dose is increased, the patient may complain of delusional thoughts, suicidal thoughts, confusion and delirium in the weeks to come. He or she may even demonstrate irritable behavior and aggressive outbursts.
- Osteoporosis – As the very term suggests, this affects your bones. Osteoporosis refers to the thinning of your bones and it usually affects older people. However, due to steroids, such bone disorders are common. But, there are other medications that may be given to the patient to keep it in check.
- Weight gain – If someone you know has been taking steroids, you’ll notice how they tend to look flabbier and heavier, especially around the face. One of the most common side effects of steroids would have to be weight gain. Sudden fluctuations in weight, especially if you stop in the middle of the course, are common.
- Infections – The steroids directly affect your immunity system. Basically, they suppress it, inhibiting its functions. That means, your immunity system isn’t working the way it should. That puts you at risk for infections. For instance, if you have never had chickenpox in the past, you are at an increased risk for it. While on steroids, it couldn’t hurt to be extra cautious so that you keep infections at bay.
- Diabetes – Regular consumption of steroids could increase the level of sugar in your blood, causing you to have diabetes. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, that would mean a different course of treatment. That is why, while on steroids, you are required to undergo blood tests at regular intervals.
Steroids have been found to be extremely helpful in treating certain ailments and conditions. But then again, they come with numerous side effects of their own. It is up to you, and your physician, to make the final decision.