If you use any medical product, especially a powerful one such as a steroid, which has a hormonal nature, you should know that the use of steroids involves many risks. Below we’ll tell you about health risks of steroids.
Risks of Using Anabolic Steroids
AAS are associated with a risk of some side effects. Here are some risks of using anabolic steroids (according to Russian scientists and writers Leonid Ostapenko and Mykhail Klestov):
- Edema. This is a swelling of tissues caused by measureless water retention. In most juicers, this results in increase in body size and smoothing of the musculature. “Puffy face” is a prominent symptom. It allows to determine without a doping analysis that an athlete is a juicer.
- Acne. Anabolics can cause acne or aggravate already existing pimples. Large and/or abundant acne on different body parts may signalize about taking AAS.
- Gynecomastia. Abnormally enlarged mammary glands in men are a common undesirable effect that occurs due to the conversion of excessive testosterone into estrogen.
- Aggressiveness. Provoking behavior and animosity are typical for steroids users. Some cyclists believe aggressiveness helps them bring their A-game in the gym and at competitions. However, this side effect badly influence their relationships with kindred spirits and workmates. Many juicers begin to be hostile to people surrounding them. Hence, their communicability and interpersonal relationships decrease.
- Arterial hypertension (high blood pressure). High or arterial blood pressure becomes a sticking point for a multitude of dopers. This is associated with fast bulking and fluid retention processes. Rasmussen JJ, Schou M, Madsen PL (Copenhagen University, 2018) reported that current AAS abusers had increased systolic blood pressure.
- Heart and vascular diseases. Anabolics modulate cholesterol profiles: total chol elevates, high-density lipoprotein (HDL, “the good cholesterol”) declines, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, “bad” one) surges. Such changes lead to formation of plaques in artery walls. Their complete blockage may cause ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction. Thiblin I, Lindquist O, Rajs J. (Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, 2000) performed a postmortem study of 34 AAS abusers. 12 of the deceased had cardiac pathology: hypertrophy, endocardial/myocardial fibrosis, steatosis, myocardial coagulation necrosis, coronary atheroma.
Read more about undesirable consequences of taking anabolic drugs in the article on side effects of steroids. In addition, there are some risks of injections, such as infection at the injection site, formation of hematomas.
Health Risks of Allergy Steroid Shots
Antiallergic steroid injections (steroid shots for allergies) are designed for the slow release of the drug in the human body. These medicines act by reducing inflammation throughout the body, contributing to the elimination of allergy symptoms in the nose. However, the drug also affects other organs and body systems, and can lead to serious side effects that can be both long-term and short-term. Long-term adverse effects include glaucoma, cataracts, hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
As for the short-term steroids injection health risks, they include:
- increased desire to eat;
- sleep difficulties (insomnia);
- mood swings, deterioration of behavior;
- facial redness;
- short-term bodyweight gain caused by increased water retention.
Risks of Epidural Steroid Injection
Steroid epidural injections are used to treat back pain. They are the administration of a powerful anti-inflammatory steroid-based product (corticosteroid) together with an anesthetic that provide pain relief.
Epidural steroid injection risks include:
- Nerve damage. It is seldom observed. Unexperienced people may damage nerves in spine. This can cause their compression leading to perilous sequelae. Therefore, only a qualified specialist can make such injections.
- Changes in blood sugar levels. Epidural injections can insignificantly affect blood glucose content.
- Allergic reactions. Sometimes patients suffer from allergy to auxiliary substances in the pharmaceutical (not to the key active agent). Patients who have had severe allergic reactions should be especially cautious.
- Muscle weakening. Steroid myopathy (weakness of proximal muscles of the limbs and the neck flexors) can rarely occur.
- Redness of the face. Sometimes patients experience warmth and rapid reddening of the face after a shot. Reddening usually disappears several hours/days after the procedure itself, and is not a cause for concern.
- Headache. Spinal headache from a dural puncture may decrease when the patient is in a horizontal position. These pains typically disappear after a while, they can be treated conservatively.
- Fever. Some patients may develop pyrexia due to the activation of the natural defense mechanism. This condition typically lasts a short while and vanishes without treatment.
According to Nancy E. Epstein (State University of N.Y. at Stony Brook, NYU Winthrop NeuroScience, 2018), other hazardous complications may include spinal fluid leaks, positional headaches, adhesive arachnoiditis, hydrocephalus, paralysis, hematomas, air embolism, and blindness.
Nevertheless, epidural shots ordinarily have no side effects. However, call an accident & emergency department straightaway if you have:
- breathing problems;
- swelling of the face, lips, throat, tongue;
- severe hives.
In addition, you shouldn’t do epidural injections by yourself. The types of folks who can give epidural steroid shots include physiatrists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, neurology specialists, and surgeons.
The Bottom Line on Risks of Using Steroids
Each medicine is associated with some risks. But what if you need to use a certain medical product containing steroid substances? How to minimize risks? The answer is very simple. Never use drugs without consulting a healthcare professional. Moreover, we don’t recommend using anabolic steroids without a prescription. If you are an athlete and are forced to do so, do it under the supervision of a specialist.