Steroids are the hormones the human body naturally produces. They enable the optimal functioning of your cells, tissue, and organs. They also refer to synthetic drugs made by man, that have cortisol-like effects.
These Steroids can also be grouped in two:
- Anabolic-androgenic Steroids (anabolics)
Corticosteroids which are usually called ‘Steroids’ are very different from anabolics which are steroid compounds used by athletes to enhance their performances. These steroids are used to treat include allergies, asthma, dermatitis, hives, Addison's disease, Crohn’s diseases, leukemia, prostate cancer, etc. Corticosteroids can be absorbed into the body in the form of eye drops, ear drops, creams, inhalers.
Synthetic drugs used in different forms:
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These steroids are used in the treatment of several health conditions, but especially for the controlling of inflammations.
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These are medications in the form of creams, lotions, ointments, solutions, serums, gels, sprays, foam, oils, shampoos and other substances made for using them on the skin or scalp. It also includes eye drops used for the treatment of eye inflammation.
Steroid Nasal Sprays:
These medications usually used to treat tightness in the nasal cavity, for example, allergies like asthma and hay fever.
These medications are also for the treatment of lung conditions. They absorbe into the body by breathing their content into the lungs.
These usually treat and relieve joint issues caused by inflammation and stiffness such as arthritis.
Corticosteroids prescribed for the following reasons:
- Addison’s disease: This is a condition where your adrenal glands do not secrete sufficient cortisol for the body’s use.
- Inflammation: Inflammation is a condition that occurs when the body’s immune system is fighting off bacteria and foreign substances to protect the body against infection. Inflammation can have adverse effects on the body’s organs. Corticosteroids can control inflammations.
- Organ Transplants: In an event when organ transplant its done, corticosteroids taken to lower the function of the immune system so the new organ is not rejected by the body.
- Autoimmune diseases: Corticosteroids are used to reduce the effects of the malfunctioning of the body’s immune system.
Classification of synthetic Corticosteroids:
Corticosteroids can be classified into the following:
- Glucocorticoids: These steroids help to reduce the effects of inflammation and reduce the functioning of the immune system. Their functions also include the depletion of these major food groups; fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
- Mineralocorticoids: These steroids control salt and water equilibrium in the body. Some glucocorticoids also have salt retaining capacity.
There are many examples of synthetic corticosteroids which perform different functions in the body and can be further grouped under Glucocorticoids and Mineralocorticoids. A few examples of synthetic corticosteroids in forms of pills and injections are:
Methylprednisolone, Dexamethasone, Triamcinolone, Prednisolone, Betamethasone, Prednisone, Cortisone, Medrol, Orasone, Celestone, Kenalog, Decadron, Kenacort, Hydeltrasol, Delta-corf, Aristocort, Cinalone, Fludrocortisone, etc.
Different examples of Corticosteroids are administered in the case of the following conditions:
Arthritis, Colitis, Asthma, Bronchitis, Skin Rashes, Allergies, Anemia, Addison’s disease, Eczema, Dandruff, Psoriasis, Lichen Planus, Discoid Lupus Erythematosus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hives, Hay Fever, Multiple Sclerosis.
Side effects of using Corticosteroids:
Synthetic steroids should use according to prescription. The regular use or the use of large quantities of synthetic Corticosteroids over a prolonged period can result in side effects. These side effects may vary depending on the type or form of corticosteroids but they can prevent sticking to prescriptions when taking drugs. These side effects may vary in different people and may not happen to everyone who uses it for a long time.
Side effects that could occur from the excessive and prolonged inhaling of corticosteroids are Cough, Sore throat, Difficulty with Speech, Nose bleeding, Oral Thrush, etc. Side effects that could occur from excessive and prolonged injecting of corticosteroids are skin loss, insomnia, and high levels of blood sugar.
This side effects could occur from excessive and prolonged oral intake of corticosteroids are acne, water retention, increased appetite, stomach irritation, insomnia, depression, thinning of skin layer, high blood pressure, delayed clotting, peptic ulceration, Cushing syndrome, vulnerability to infections, extreme fatigue, weakness of the muscle, cataracts, facial hair growth, glaucoma, easy bruising of the skin, moon face, salt retention, irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, euphoria, osteoporosis, shrinking of adrenal glands, adrenal necrosis of hip joints, nausea, shock caused by adrenal crisis, etc.
Who should use Corticosteroids?
If you have conditions like diabetes, heart, liver, thyroid, kidney diseases, stomach problems, blood pressure or mental health issues, be careful while using steroids as it can make these conditions worse. Also, if you have infections such as HIV, AIDS, herpes simplex, tuberculosis, fungal infection, you should also apply caution while using this medication.
If you have also just undergone a surgical procedure or have a serious injury, you have to also consider this while using these medications. If you wear contact lenses, avoid using steroids in the form of eye drops while wearing them. Also, if you have been diagnosed with systemic sclerosis, you have to be careful about the dosage of prednisolone you take as this can worsen the situation.
Older people may be at risk of osteoporosis after a long duration of using corticosteroids and children may be at risk of stunted growth, chickenpox or measles infections. If you have infected skin, broken skin or skin conditions like acne and open sores, avoid the use of topical steroids for treatment. Steroids should only be used by pregnant and nursing mothers in necessary situations. Research shows that the prolonged use and abuse of these substances can cause defects in the unborn child.
Therefore, the use of topical steroids with high potency should not be practiced by nursing and breastfeeding mothers. There is no proof if the content can make contact with the breast milk mother apply all caution during usage, of topical steroids, even of low potency. Do not apply topical steroids to a nursing mother’s breasts and if she must use these medications, she should also be careful to wash off the cream from her breasts before breastfeeding her child. This safety measure is very important to prevent the child from being harmed.
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If you need to combine the use of other drugs while using these steroids, ensure you inform your doctor to avoid these drugs interacting with steroids and causing adverse effects. Some drugs that may have a high propensity of interacting with steroids include anticoagulants, drugs for the treatment of epilepsy and diabetes and Xofigo.
While using steroids, it is advised that you avoid vaccinations such as yellow fever as they have different risks possibilities. The consumption of alcohol and steroid tablets can cause serious stomach problems. You would need to reduce alcohol intake while using steroids. The use of tobacco can also cause complications for you while using steroids.
Certain food substances should not be consumed while using steroids as doing so may further lead to more complications and health issues. For instance, don't consume grapefruit juice while using steroids.
Anabolic Steroids (Anabolics)
Anabolic steroids, also called anabolic-androgen steroids (AAS) are androgens that include testosterone. They are also synthetic derivations of testosterone that bring about the development of masculine characteristics. These characteristics include the deepening of the voice and facial hair. The anabolic part of the term refers to muscle building while the androgen part refers to male features. They usually referred to as Arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, roids and stackers, gear, juice on the street.
Anabolics lead to several changes in different parts of the body like the muscles, liver, kidney, blood, bones, hair follicles, immune system, reproductive system, and central nervous system. Anabolics are used for different purposes including medical purposes.
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The different usage methods followed by those misusing these medications include:
- Cycling: This involves the use of several doses for cycles of 6-12 weeks and then a stoppage period of about a month. Then, you begin the cycle again.
- Stacking: This involves the combination of more than one steroid or the use of supplements or the use of both oral and injectable forms of steroids.
- Pyramiding: This involves the gradual increase of dosage of steroids used until you arrive at the zenith then reduce again to zero intakes.
- Plateauing: This is switching the use of steroids to minimize the risks of creating tolerance.
Regardless of the method being used, there is no proof these methods prevent or reduce the risks associated with abusing these drugs. Anabolics are popularly divided into 32 types and are used for various purposes. They are used for medical purposes but other purposes include:
- Building and developing muscles.
- Endurance and strength.
- Depleting of fat stored in the body.
- Recovery purposes.
- Enhancement of performance especially in sports.
- Quick body metabolism.
How can we take steroids?
- Orally through the mouth
- Through the use of injections
- Through the implanting of pellets under the skin layer
- Applied as a cream, lotion or gel.
Anabolics used orally do make an effective method of absorption. While applying in cream or gel form makes a highly inefficient method of absorption.
Anabolic-androgen steroids move around the body using the blood as a medium. They move to the muscle tissues where they get bound to an androgen receptor. Through this means, they make contact with the DNA composition of the cell, to kick start the process of cell growth.
Anabolics are taken according to prescribed dosages. Different types of anabolics have different dosages attached to them. It advises you seek the proper dosage from your doctor for each type of anabolics you intend using. These dosages grouped into:
- Clinical Dosage ranges of oral and injectable androgens and anabolic steroid.
- Androgen replacement therapy formulations and dosages used in men.
- Androgen replacement therapy formulations and dosages used in women.
- Androgen/anabolic steroid dosages for breast cancer.
Uses of Anabolics:
Medical Uses of Anabolics
The medical uses of anabolics categorized according to the different effects and situations that require their usage:
- Used for the stimulation of bone marrow and therapy purposes in cases of leukemia, anemia and kidney failure.
- Also used to correct cases of growth conditions by stimulating growth, especially in children.
- Effective in helping patients, especially with cancer to stimulate their appetite.Used to reduce the loss of bones in elderly men.
- They are effective with weight gain and reduce the effect of weight loss, especially after serious surgery.
- Used to aid with recovery from sunburns.
- They are effective in the treatment of alcoholic hepatitis.
- Also used in the treatment of delayed puberty.
- AAS is effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
- AAS, when given in low dosages, can correct menopausal symptoms.
- These steroids increase libido, hot flashes, sexual energy.
- They are also effective in the treatment of breast cancer.
- They are effective in improving libido for men and as a treatment for men with low production of testosterone.
- They are effective in dealing with delayed puberty in young boys.
- Also, they used for therapy for transgender men and intersex fellows by creating male characteristics.
Other uses include the treatment of breast cancer in women, although its use, in this case, has been greatly reduced. They are also used as therapy for transgender women to cause the development and increase of libido and strength. Women also use them for going through menopause as a method of reducing hot flashes.
Use of Anabolics for enhancement purposes:
Anabolics are also for the enhancement of performances by individuals and athletes alike. AAS are used by individuals who are displeased with their performance rate in life; for example at work. They also sued by those wanting to enhance their looks to look more appealing in the eyes of observers.
Athletes and individuals also use AAS in other forms of sporting activities, as a way to maintain a competitive advantage over their opponents or to aid in the recovery from injuries. Using steroids for other purposes besides medical is illegal in most countries. This is especially for use among sportsmen and women in different games or sporting activities. These activities include shotput, weightlifting, wrestling, boxing, running, bodybuilding, cycling, racing, baseball, football, cricket, etc. Athletes usually may go through doping tests to ascertain if they used these substances as a way of ensuring fair competition. However, some athletes use specially designed steroids to pass these tests.
Risk of Anabolic Steroid Addiction
Anabolic steroid users who self-medicate are often at risk to be addict to the use of these substances. Despite the many odds of abusing these substances which include health issues, financial and social consequences, these users still go the extra mile to ensure they have access to these substances. Some get obsessed about the effects of these substances on their overall look. Also, the performance and cannot afford to function without their performance by these drugs.
Misuse of these drugs; the excessive or regular use and the use of these drugs over a long duration come with adverse effects. One such effect is the consequences of anabolic steroid abuse on the brain. Though they do not have the same kind of effects as other abused substances, like causing the ‘high’ moments, the abuse of anabolic steroids can also have the following effects on the brain:
- Excessive jealousy and moments of paranoia.
- Intense irritability and unexplained rage.
- Moments of near madness behavior.
- Believing and living by false ideas.
Other side effects of abusing these anabolic steroids include:
- Fluid retention.
- Having difficulty when passing out urine.
- Increased red cell count.
- Low sperm count.
- Significant loss of growth of hair.
- Fluid retention.
- Changes in libido.
- Stretch marks
- Scalp baldness.
- Reversible infertility.
- Affective Disorders.
- Glucose intolerance.
- Muscle sprains.
- Acute renal failure.
- Insulin resistance.
- Immune dysfunction.
Abuse of Anabolic Androgen Steroids also bring about the following:
- Reduction in size of testicles in men
- Reduces sperm count in men.
- Causes men to develop mammary glands.
- Baldness or loss of scalp hair in men.
- Increase in facial hair in women.
- Spontaneous penis erection in men.
- Reduction in breast size.
- Baldness or loss of scalp hair in women.
- Irregularity in the menstrual cycle.
- Higher sex drive in women
- Increase in size of the clitoris.
- Broad voice.
- Ovarian cysts in women.
- Stunted growth in adolescents.
- Stunted height in teens.
- Premature sexual development in teens.
Other risks to body organs created by the abuse of anabolic steroids include:
- Cardiac arrest.
- Tendon rupturing.
- Bone loss.
- Cardiovascular issues.
- Kidney failure.
- Liver problems.
- High blood pressure
- Increased size of the heart.
- Blood clotting.
- Coronary heart disease.
- Increase in bad cholesterol.
- Inhibition to the production of sperm
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There are also effects that associate with withdrawal from the use of thee drugs. They include:
- Extreme tiredness.
- Inability to sleep.
- Mood Swings and Depression.
- Reduced sex drives.
- Abnormal cravings.
Individuals who abuse these drugs buy from unlicensed suppliers and at a hue or absorbing bad products. They also contracting certain diseases just by sharing a needle with another steroid addict.
Treatment for Anabolic-Androgen Addiction and Abuse
The addiction to these substances usually begins gradually, as an effort to sustain a particular look or level of performance. The first effort to make while attempting to break free from the addiction to these substances is to discontinue the use of these substances. There has to be an effort to stop the purchase and abuse of these substances immediately. Making attempts to outgrow this addiction while still using it even in bits, can prove abortive. The earlier you put an end to it, the faster your body adjusts to the changes that occur as a result of your decision.
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The next step would be to seek the professional help of therapists. This would include behavioral therapists who can assist with all the psychological symptoms of withdrawal or side effects of the abuse of these substances.
Medications can also prove to be very helpful in situations like this. Doctors ca prescribe drugs to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal. These drugs can also use to correct behavioral and psychological effects such as depression. They can also use to cause a recovery of the normal functioning of the hormone system.
For extreme cases of chronic addiction, getting help in an addiction treatment facility should be strongly considered.
Duration of Treatment:
The duration of treatment and recovery is not the same for everyone. However, it usually influence the period through which these medications have been used; the longer the period of use would mean a longer period for recovery. The duration of recovery and the time it would take for the body to return to normal functionality would depend on the treatment used as well.
In conclusion, though the synthetic forms of steroids produced to enhance the general quality of life, there has to be an effort to prevent abuse of the substance. Do not take steroids without a prescription or regularly as a way of boosting one’s total look or to alleviate pain. Do not use them in very large quantities and over a long duration. The safest way to use these substances to ensure there is no adverse effect on the body organs is to use them when necessary. According to the prescription given by your doctor and over the specific period, they ought to have been used.