Patient Awareness

Steroids as medications: Things to keep in mind

Steroids as medications
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The word ‘steroid’ brings with a negative feeling, for it is mostly associated with drugs with adverse side effects. Steroids can actually be used for medical purposes under proper supervision. Steroids as medications are synthetic drugs which resemble a natural body producing hormone (called cortisol) used for the treatment of many inflammatory diseases and health conditions. On the other hand, anabolic steroids (resembling testosterone) are used by athletes for various physical enhancing purposes like building body muscle and increasing body strength.

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There are three ways steroids can be taken or given: orally, topically (with an ointment or cream) or through injections. Steroids as medications ,work by reducing the activity of the immune system and by decreasing the inflammation. Inflammation is the natural process of our white blood cells and the chemicals of our body to protect us from foreign organisms. Sometimes the immune system is overactive and needs to be controlled. Decreasing the activity of the immune system can work against inflammation. Steroids reduce the inflammation action so that the actual tissues are not damaged beyond repair and also affect the immune system functioning.

The benefits of supervised Steroids as medications intake is that they are used to treat conditions when an individual’s defense system fails or malfunctions and to prevent the damage caused to tissues in such a case. In fact, steroids are known to even save organs at critical times when inflammation can threaten crucial body organs. For example, people with Lupus have chances of having kidney failure when there is kidney inflammation. In case of emergencies, doctors inject steroids to the problem area to immediately reduce the effect of inflammation. In fact, experts suggest that medical steroid injections can provide relief much better to the problematic area and reduce the chances of side effects caused due to continuous use of oral or topical steroids.

The problem arises when steroids are used without proper consultation with a doctor or physician. Sports professionals or body builders are very well known for steroid abuse. The side effects of steroids can be usually seen through the change in an individual’s physical appearance or through their behavior. Abusing steroids can lead to weakening of muscles & body functions, heart attack or stroke, kidney failure, liver tumors, anger & aggression, bleeding problems, etc. Constant use or overdose of these drugs can also lead to ‘steroid dependency’ wherein an individual believes that they require steroids to function properly. This causes serious side effects and also an increase in hormonal activity in the body. .   It is said that over the long run, excessive steroid use can interfere with the functioning of the neurotransmitters and create changes in the brain too.

As it is with any medication, an overdose of steroids will always lead to adverse effects on the body in the long run. It is always advisable that an individual first consults a doctor or a professional physician before taking up steroids or even leaving them. Suddenly stopping medically advised steroids can also lead to side effects and unknown withdrawal symptoms. Always consult a doctor before using Steroids as medications and only use prescribed drugs by licensed doctors.

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