Steroids can be highly effective in treating a variety of conditions, including asthma and rashes. And of course, it’s a well known fact that steroids can increase muscle strength and overall performance and are used by athletes and sports players, for that reason. Steroid medication can also improve the body’s immune system and boost metabolism, as well as speed up the body’s healing rate. However, the side effects of steroid medication may make you think twice about taking steroids, despite the obvious and appealing benefits.
The intensity of steroid side effects can depend on the amount of steroid medication being taken, as well as the length of time you have been taking steroids. Your overall health and metabolism can also make a difference. Adults and teenagers are both at risk from these side effects of steroid medication, although teens taking steroids also risk a loss of bone growth, meaning they won’t reach their normal full height. If you take steroid medication regularly, it can be difficult to stop taking it, and the withdrawal symptoms can include a loss of appetite, depression and feeling very tired.
One of the most common side effects is the change in mood that steroids can cause. If you take steroids regularly you may experience irritability, or even anger and feelings of persecution. It is common to become delusional, or to believe in things that you wouldn’t normally believe in. High levels of energy are also common, and while a higher energy level can be a good thing if you are taking part in a sporting event, it isn’t a good thing in the long term. Other side effects of taking steroids can include mood swings, irrational behavior and a loss of memory.
However, it is probably the physical side effects that most people are familiar with, and that tend to catch our attention in the sports news headlines. Weight gain is common, especially around the face, the back of the neck and the abdomen – areas where you probably don’t want to gain weight. Hair loss can be a problem for anyone taking steroids over a long period of time, and swelling in the lower legs is also common, due to fluid retention. Acne and oily skin are common side effects in both men and women, and women can experience a reduction in breast size, a hoarser voice and more noticeable body hair.
Steroids can also cause a variety of potentially harmful, and even fatal, side effects, some of which you may not even be aware of while taking steroid medication. A heart attack or stroke, and high blood pressure are all more likely if you routinely take steroids, and steroid intake can also lead to liver cancer or other liver diseases, especially if the steroids are taken in pill form. Steroids can lower good cholesterol levels and lead to higher levels of bad cholesterol. Skin diseases are a possibility too, and these can be severe if the steroids were tainted in some way. Your eyes can be adversely affected too, in the form of glaucoma or cataracts, and an increased risk of thinning bones and developing diabetes are very real risks.
It goes without saying that you should never take steroids unless prescribed by your doctor, and even then, make sure you follow all instructions and precautions.