Steroids are vital but should be taken cautiously

Steroids are vital but should be taken cautiously
July 15 06:10 2017 Print This Article


Performance enhancing athletes, weightlifters and bodybuilders use hormones by way of steroids to gain muscle strength and endurance. These steroids, medically called androgens, composed of male sex hormones. There are steroid pills for women containing hormones like estrogen and progesterone that encourage the development of sexual characteristics. Corticosteroids are a group of artificial steroids that imitate cortisone, responsible for controlling inflammation and helps in the treatment of injury or infection. Professional athletes use anabolic steroids for over-performance at championships. Women also take drugs when they look flabby to appear lean and muscular.

Steroids are often used without a prescription. Therefore, while using the drug, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and the withdrawal symptoms. More than the legality of the drugs being taken, it is important to introspect the adverse reactions if they are stopped abruptly. When discontinuing steroids are thought of, it is suggested to discontinue them gradually over a period of time. Decrease the dosages over time that reduces side effects and helps in coming off steroids with safety. This further reduces the physical and psychological side effects that may be harmful to your body.

Coming off steroids safely

When the steroids are taken for a long time period, the adrenal gland gets suppressed and shrinks in size. With the sudden discontinuation of steroids, the small adrenals cannot cope up with the increased requirement of your body leading to symptoms like joint pain, fall in blood pressure. This is known as adrenal crisis and can be avoided by the gradual withdrawal of drugs. These drugs should be taken only under a doctor’s supervision. Low dosages must be taken and the doctor must be consulted to know when and how to stop them. Plenty of drinking water and diet-rich proteins should be taken to avoid muscle wasting.

However, the steroids should never be taken on an empty stomach. At least an antacid tablet or milk should be taken with the medication. Diabetic patients should check the blood sugar levels regularly and if needed, doses of insulin may be increased. High blood pressure patients must check their blood pressure and adjust dosages if needed. If there is any kind of infection, there antibiotic therapy must be initiated while continuing with the steroids. Extra Vitamin D and Calcium should be taken to prevent osteoporosis. Sudden withdrawal may cause symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, restlessness and fatigue. The best manner to withdraw is to supplement with conventional drugs and reducing the doses of steroids.

Diagnosing withdrawal symptoms and its treatment

As the withdrawal symptoms are not specific, doctors face difficulty in diagnosing the problem. The best way to diagnose is to review the history and physically examine the patient. Some tests are conducted like creatinine level, serum calcium level, cortisol level and BUN level. Additionally, specialist doctors like endocrinologists, internal medicine specialists and emergency physicians can treat the problem. When discontinuing steroids problem arise, it is generally treated by giving steroids to decrease the withdrawal symptoms. The problem in patients varies from individual to individual so the doctor has to assess everyone differently. The recovery time may be from a few weeks to a year depending on patient’s condition.

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Ralph Ducksworth
Ralph Ducksworth

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