Steroids are a human creation. They are also naturally produced by the adrenal glands in our bodies situated close to the kidneys. Steroids such as corticosteroids, hydrocortisone, and prednisone can be used in treating topical or internal illnesses such as skin rashes, bowel inflammation, and respiratory tract illnesses. Then there are anabolic steroids which can be used to increase muscle mass, decrease fat and to enhance performance. These drugs can treat illnesses to a varying degree but also warrant a certain degree of precaution while administering these drugs and should only be used in the manner prescribed by the physician.
Steroids are less active sources of androgen. Their effects are unclear, but it is believed that when taken in large doses, they produce effects similar to other androgens such as testosterone.
Anabolic steroids affect cellular activity and gene expression by acting on androgen receptors. Activation of androgen receptors not only regulates pathways involved in the production of male characteristics, but it also causes rapid increases in calcium levels within skeletal muscle, heart, and brain cells. 104. Calcium is involved in neuronal signaling.
Uses of Steroids:
Steroids can whether they are anabolic steroids or any other steroid pills help treat a wide variety of illness and medical conditions, such as:
- joint and muscle illnesses like frozen shoulder, and arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- Obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma
These drugs also help in the suppression of the immune system to treat autoimmune diseases, this can help to suppress the immune system to avoid attacking its tissues. The immune suppression function becomes helpful in organ transplant surgeries to avoid the rejection of the organ transplant recipient. Steroids like corticosteroids can treat Addison’s disease, a condition that restricts or diminishes the ability of the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids that the body needs.
How are steroids used?
Anabolic steroids or corticosteroids can be used in a variety of ways depending on the severity of the illness:
- Oral: administered orally in cases of chronic arthritis and lupus. Capsules, steroid pills, and syrups are orally taken to help with inflammation and pain caused by certain illnesses
- Sprays and inhalers: these are used to treat allergies in the nasal passage and respiratory tract inflammations
- Drops: used after a surgical procedure in eyes
Side-effects and risks:
Medicines, especially steroid pills should be used with extreme precautions. Side effects and risks of steroids are more likely to occur if you’re on a high dose and are using them for an extended period. The medical practitioner will prescribe low doses to stabilize the condition and to control the risk of any reaction.
Proton pump inhibitors are given with steroids to prevent any harsh side effects on the stomach. Some of the most common steroid side effects are as follows:
· weight gain and increased appetite
· stomach pains, indigestion, or heartburn
· sleep problems
· changes in mood
· bruising easily
· thinning of the skin
· stretch marks
Creams and gels:
· stinging or burning sensation in the region where the cream had been applied
· changes in skin color
· thinning of the skin
· stretch marks
· increased hair growth in areas where the cream had been applied
Eye drops and ointments:
· stinging or burning in the eyes after administering drops.
· Awkward taste in the mouth after putting drops in.
Steroid treatment can induce mood swings – you may feel very high or extremely low. This could be more likely with individuals who have a history of mood disorders. If you are concerned about this, speak with the individual who is administering your steroids.
Taking steroid pills for an extended period will increase the risk of infection. It’s important to notify the doctor or rheumatology nurse if you feel feverish or ill, or if you experience any new symptoms after starting steroids. If you have chickenpox, shingles, or measles, or if you come into contact with someone who has either of these diseases, see the doctor or the person who is helping you right away.
These diseases may be dangerous in people who are taking steroids, and you can need further medication before you begin to feel better. Steroids pills and in other forms if used for an extended amount of time may often induce muscle weakness, and they can occasionally interfere with women’s cycles.
Effects on other medications:
Steroids pills or in other forms can be coupled with other drugs. However, since certain treatments can compete with steroids, you should discuss all new prescriptions with the doctor before beginning them, and you can warn someone else who is helping you with what you’re doing.
Do not use over-the-counter medications or herbal medicines without first contacting a doctor, rheumatology nurse, or pharmacist.
Any of the medications mentioned below can interfere with steroids, so tell your doctor if you are taking any of them:
- Warfarin and other blood thinners or anticoagulants
- epilepsy medications such as phenytoin or carbamazepine
- diabetes medications
- Xofigo is a prostate cancer therapy drug.