Steroids have become a very common term in athletic events. Steroids are a group of hormones, which the body naturally produces in small amounts. The body uses these hormones to help control metabolism, inflammation, immune function, salt and water balance, development of sexual characteristics and a persons ability to fight illness and injury.
Steroids were first used in the medical field to help with the pains of arthritis. Now medical documentation is showing the side effects of using steroids for a prolonged time period. A person who has used steroids may find that their metabolism is not working properly allowing fat to accumulate in their abdomen, face, and back of the neck. Levels of blood sugar increase, sometimes leading to diabetes. Muscular weakness may develop over much of the body. Bones, eyes, skin, blood pressure, immune system, and emotions also were affected by the use of steroids in medical patients.
Despite these side effects, steroids are continuously used in the medical field. Steroids are most often used to help with inflammation while no other drugs were able to do this with the same effectiveness. Since the knowledge of these side effects that go along with steroids has come about, new prescriptions have developed. One of the most common is to administer doses only once a day or every other day. This gives the body time to flush out the steroids before another dose. When steroids are used to treat the symptoms of asthma it is inhaled, this sends the medicine straight to the lungs surface without touching other body parts. These new methods along with others have helped lower the amount of side effects patients suffer do to steroid usage.
People who take steroids to enhance their physical capabilities also are hampered by the side effects of steroids. Males who take large doses of anabolic steroids tend to experience changes in sexual characteristics. Some possible side effects are shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, impotence, baldness, difficulty or pain in urinating, development of breasts, and an enlarged prostate. Females may experience masculinization along with these other side effects: growing of facial hair, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, deepened voice, and breast reduction.
Although steroids are widely used by adults, teen-aged people seem to be the targeted age group. While going through puberty people grow at different rates and teen-agers feel steroids can help them become bigger and more mature, the opposite is true. Anabolic steroids can halt growth prematurely in adolescents. Researchers have found that steroid use can cause sever mood swings which can lead to violent behaviors. Users also may suffer from paranoid jealously, extreme irritability, and delusions. Major side effects experienced by adolescents include liver tumors, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, severe acne, trembling, and the weakening of tendons, which may result in tearing or rupture of tendons and muscles.
Steroids can also cause permanent damage to the heart and tendons in a person. Steroids lower the level of HDL cholesterol in the body while raising the total level of cholesterol in their blood system. For young athletes this is a formula leading to higher risks of heart attacks. Tendons are put in terrible strain by steroids because the body produces abnormal collagen, which cause the tendons to weaken.
Steroids are shown in abundant studies to cause psychological dependence and major depression on withdrawal from heavy use. The depression is often so bad it fails to respond to common antidepressants, and requires hospitalization. Drug-free muscle growth causes very few to almost no tendon damage or any other side effects that commonly accompany steroid use.
With the available information on the dangers of using steroids, either medically or illegally, this is not the path to take. Hard work, good food, and positive thinking provide the same results as steroids but with out the damaging side effects. Steroids are something that only doctors should be able to prescribe and only in desperate situations. They are nothing that should be messed with and the dangers of steroids need to be spread to others.
Anabolic Steroids: Health Hazards, NIDA Research Report Series, 1999. http://www.health.org/pubs/nidarr/st5.htm
Anabolic Steroids: Abusing Anabolic Steroids, NIDA Research Report Series, 1999. http://www.health.org/pubs/nidarr/st4.htm
Colgan, Michael, Death is Waiting in the Wings: Steroids Versus Natural Growth, The Colgan Institute, 1999. http://www.musculardevelopment.com/wings.html
Risks of Long-Term Steroid Use, Mayo Clinic, 1999. http://www.mayohealth.org/mayo/9606/htm/qa2.htm
Steroids- A close look at a catch-all term, Mayo Clinic, 1999. http://www.mayohealth.org/mayo/9409/htm/steroids.htm.
Tips for Teens About Steroids, The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, 1999. http://www.health.org/pubs/tips/teenster.htm