There are two sides of a coin. While something can offer you numerous perks, it can also carry some disadvantages. Whether it is social media or taking steroids. This blog will elaboratively talk about steroids – which can be both, a boon and a bane.
While steroids have earned a good reputation for reducing inflammation, it has also earned flak for having a lot of side effects. Let’s talk more about steroids and their disadvantages in this blog.
What are steroids and how do they work?
Before we begin explaining steroids, let’s take a brief moment to understand inflammation.
Picture this. You have a kingdom to take care of and guard. Everything is going fine, it’s all sunshine, rainbow and peace in your territory; until one day, you are attacked by another territory. And so, to fight the battle, you deploy your troops. Your troops fight the battle against the enemy to take you to victory.
Here, you are the immune system and your troops are the white blood cells, your immune system’s response to fight infections that can harm your body.
Steroids generate the same kind of response in your body in case of infections. The only difference is that these steroids are man-made. They function by reducing inflammation in the body. But why does inflammation need to be reduced? After all, it’s healthy, isn’t it, when your body deploys cells to fight the enemy?
Well, not always.
In some medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system produces inflammation in the joints or some other parts of the body by mistake. Other times, the discomfort can last too long. This can cause permanent damage if it remains untreated. Steroids are used to reduce this immune reaction.
Potential side effects of steroids
While steroids aim to reduce inflammation, they can also pose several threats to the body. These include certain side effects that can inflict physical or emotional harm. Here are a few side effects:
Steroids can cause fluid retention and an increase in appetite, leading to weight gain.
Some people may experience mood swings, irritability, or even feelings of anxiety or depression.
Steroids can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Increased Blood Sugar Levels
Steroids can raise blood sugar levels, which may be a concern for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
High Blood Pressure
Prolonged steroid use can contribute to elevated blood pressure.
Weakening of Bones
Long-term steroid use can reduce bone density, increasing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
Steroids can cause muscle weakness, especially with high doses or prolonged use.
Increased Risk of Infections
While this is the desired effect in some medical conditions, it can increase the risk of infections in the long term.
Steroids can cause thinning of the skin, making it more susceptible to bruising and slower wound healing.
Cataracts and Glaucoma
Prolonged use of steroids can increase the risk of developing cataracts or glaucoma.
Steroids may lead to stomach irritation, ulcers, or increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
Prolonged steroid use can suppress the body’s natural production of cortisol, which may lead to adrenal insufficiency when stopping the medication suddenly.
It’s essential to follow your healthcare professional’s instructions carefully when using steroids, especially for long-term treatments. They will monitor your condition and adjust the dosage to minimise potential side effects. If you have concerns about the side effects of steroids, discuss them with your doctor, as they can provide guidance on how to manage any potential risks.
While steroids can be highly effective in managing various medical conditions, it is crucial to be aware of the potential side effects they may bring. Understanding the risks and benefits associated with steroid use is essential for both patients and healthcare professionals. When prescribed appropriately and used as directed, steroids can offer significant relief and improve the quality of life for many individuals.
However, to minimise the risk of adverse effects, it is vital to follow medical advice closely, consider alternative treatments when suitable, and regularly communicate with healthcare providers. With proper guidance and monitoring, the potential benefits of steroid therapy can be maximised, while the impact of side effects can be minimised, allowing individuals to make well-informed decisions about their healthcare journey.