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 will tell you about some of the health risks of steroids.
Risks of using anabolic steroids
The use of anabolic agents is associated with a risk of some side effects. Here are some risks of using anabolic steroids (according to Russian scientists L. Ostapenko and M. Klestov):
- Edema. This is a swelling of tissues due to excessive water retention. In most athletes, this results in some increase in body volume and smoothing of the muscles. Puffiness is the most prominent symptom, according to which it is possible to determine that the athlete follows a cycle without an anti-doping test.
- Acne. Anabolic steroids can cause acne or aggravate a problem with already existing acne. Large and/or abundant acne on the back, chest, shoulders, neck and face are a sign of the fact that some athletes take steroids.
- Gynecomastia. Abnormally enlarged mammary glands in men are a common side effect that occurs due to the conversion of excessive testosterone into estrogen.
- Aggressiveness. The incease of aggression is very typical for steroids users. Some athletes consider that this helps them to handle training loads more easily and to compete better at competitions. However, in most cases aggressiveness acts as a negative phenomenon. Many users of steroids begin to be hostile to family, friends, colleagues at work, etc. Accordingly, this has a negative impact on interpersonal relationships.
- Arterial hypertension (high blood pressure). High or at least increased blood pressure becomes a problem for many athletes who use steroids. This usually occurs simultaneously due to the rapid build-up of weight and water retention in the body.
- Cardiovascular diseases. The use of steroids affects the levels and the athlete’s profile of cholesterol: total cholesterol levels increase, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels decrease, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels increase. This can lead to the formation of cholesterol plaques on the walls of the arteries, and later to complete blockage of blood vessels, which can result in stroke and heart attack.
More details about the undesirable consequences of taking anabolic drugs can be found in the article on side effects of steroids. In addition, there are some risks with injections, such as infection at the injection site, formation of hematomas, and the like.
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 steroid injection risks, they include:
1) increased desire to eat;
2) sleep difficulties (insomnia);
3) mood swings, deterioration of behavior;
4) facial redness;
5) 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 drug (corticosteroid) together with an anesthetic that provide pain relief.
Epidural steroid injection risks include:
1. Nerve damage. This is a rather rare side effect. Sometimes an injection needle can damage the spinal nerves, which as a result are compressed, which leads to dangerous consequences. Therefore, only a qualified specialist can make such injections.
2. Changes in blood sugar levels. As a result of epidural injections, blood sugar levels may insignificantly fluctuate.
3. Allergic reactions. Sometimes patients suffer from allergic reactions, not to the active substance, but to the auxiliary components present in the drug. Patients who have severe allergies should be especially cautious.
4. Muscle weakening. In very rare cases, steroid myopathy, or in other words, weakening of the muscles can occur.
5. Redness of the face. Sometimes patients note reddening of the face after an injection. As a rule, reddening disappears after several hours or days after the procedure itself, and is not a cause for concern.
6. Headache. Spinal headache from a dural puncture may decrease when the patient is in a horizontal position. As a rule, these pains disappear independently within several days after the procedure.
9. Fever. Infrequent cases of fever resulting from epidural injections are associated with the natural defense mechanism of the body on the steroid. As a rule, the fever lasts a short time and disappears by itself.
Nevertheless, epidural injections of steroids, as a rule, have no side effects. However, call the doctor immediately if you have:
- trouble breathing;
- swelling of the face, lips, throat, tongue;
- severe hives.
In addition, we have to note that you shouldn’t do epidural injections by yourself. The types of folks who can give epidural steroid shots include physiatrists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, neurology specialists, as well as surgeons.
The bottom line on risks of using steroids
The use of 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 doctor. Also, we do not recommend the use of anabolic steroids without a prescription. If you are an athlete and you are forced to do so, do it under the supervision of a specialist.