Every thing in this world has its pros and cons and steroid use is no exception. While use of premium quality steroids under qualified advice never leads to side effects of steroids, things can possibly go wrong when steroid abuse happens, knowingly or unknowingly. In this article, we would be reading about the possible side effects of steroids and find out how these steroid side effects can be avoided and eliminated.
Before we start the journey of this article, it is important to note that difference between steroid use and steroid abuse. While steroid use is legal use of steroids and regulated as per medical advice, steroid abuse is use of steroids for illegal purposes. Side effects of steroids are common in cases of steroid abuse.
Let us read as to why steroids are abused in the first place.
What are the side effects of steroids? They fall into two categories, long term effects and short term effects.
Short Term Effects
Aggression and Rage
Though not scientifically proven it would seem that, as people react differently to drugs, the increase in testosterone, the increase in blood pressure, and low self esteem due to drug dependency, are contributory factors that are likely to increase aggression in users and will vary in degree depending on individual reaction. This kind of behaviour occurs in other drug users who are affected by changes in the body and the brain.
Water retention (Endema)
Steroids are known to cause water retention when taken in controlled amounts on the advice of a doctor. The irresponsible use of steroids can lead to swelling in the ankles, knees, feet and wrists. Stopping the taking of the steroids will control this condition. If this occurs it can be relieved to a certain extent by elevating the legs above the head, a common practice amongst deep vein thrombosis sufferers.
Atrophy of the testicles
This condition causes the testicles to shrink and is caused by the fact that testosterone is being introduced into the body from another source (steroids) so the testicles automatically stop producing testosterone themselves causing them to shrink. It is also thought that this may lead to sterility in men though there is no clear evidence that this is the case.
This condition is caused by excess testosterone in the body which is converted to oestrogen which is a female hormone and causes swelling of the breast tissue. This results in enlarged breasts which require surgery to reduce as it obviously causes great embarrassment. It will not help the state of mind to have to go into the gym with this condition.
Acne is disease that affects some people. It is a rash of pimples that usually attack the face area and cause great distress to both males and females. It is particularly present during adolescence and the onset of puberty. The hormonal changes that occur are the cause and with the use of steroids these hormonal changes are greatly exaggerated with the result that severe acne can result causing embarrassment and distress.
Steroids affect the levels of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol in the bloodstream resulting in high cholesterol which can eventually lead to long term damage such as heart attack or strokes.
These are the main short term effects although many others have been mentioned including baldness and liver damage but there is a lot of speculation and not enough medical evidence to support these as real effects. Many dealers recommend drinking a lot of water if side effects are present which washes the liver and may restrict any damage. Other effects mentioned include dizziness, nausea, jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, sleeping problems and hallucinations though again lack of hard evidence does not fully support theses effects.
Long Term Effects
There is little evidence to support the long term effects of steroid use but some are evident, such as those described below. It is obvious that abuse of the body in whatever form it takes is going to have long term effects.
Young men who are still growing and take steroids may damage the growth plates in the long bones. The brain senses the level of hormones in the body and instructs the bones to stop growing. This may result in them being permanently shorter than average.
The risk of high cholesterol associated with steroid use increases the chance of blood clots to the heart or the brain which can result in death or severe disability. In addition high blood pressure and the increase in muscle mass places greater strain on the heart as it struggles to increase the supply of blood to cope with this. This may cause premature death from heart attacks.
Enlargement of the prostate is usually a problem with older men but it has been known to develop in younger men who are taking steroids. The additional testosterone introduced into the body causes it to swell, significantly increasing the risk of cancer.
The use of steroids has been shown to cause liver damage. Known as peliosis hepatitis blood filled cysts can replace the tissue in the liver which can lead to liver failure. It is thought that these cysts can turn into tumours leading to liver cancer. One of the signs of liver damage is jaundice which is known to occur in steroid users.
As previously mentioned ‚steroid rage‚ is a problem amongst steroid users but there are other psychological effects. In young men particularly the brain is starved of a substance that is essential for the feeling of ‚ well being‚ and can lead to depression in later life. Other effects include mood swings, hallucinations, paranoia, and anxiety.
Effects on Females
The side effects of steroids on female steroid users can be devastating. They may lose their feminine curves, and develop coarse skin. They may grow facial hair, their voices may deepen, their breasts may shrink and their clitoris grows. It also causes changes in the menstrual cycle or stops it altogether. There is a risk of tendon and ligament damage, and the possibility of weakening the immune system. They are also prone to an increase in cholesterol levels, cardiovascular damage and an increased risk of heart attacks. There is also the risk to the reproductive system such as infertility and cervical cancer it is obvious that introducing testosterone into a female body is going to increase the male characteristics. This can also lead to the growth of bodily hair and result in hair loss from the head. The psychological effects of such changes must be frightening as they may be long term even if the steroid taking is stopped.
In these days of heightened awareness of health and fitness and the desire to eat more healthy foods it is alarming that steroid abuse is so prevalent. More people are attending the gyms in an effort to change their appearance whether for their own sakes or to attract the opposite sex. A lot of pressure is being applied to people to look healthier and that probably applies to women more than men. The majority of men and women who do go to the gym are at no risk from steroid pushers who usually operate by word of mouth though it is always a risk that the dealers, who feed on vulnerability, will see an opportunity for increased income. However a large percentage of their clients are body builders who crave to have muscles that catch people‚ attention and also enhance their performance in the case of competitive weight lifting.