A steroid is basically a chemically active organic molecule with four rings fused in a certain molecular configuration. Steroids play both important roles in human metabolism:
As important cellular elements, steroids have dual biological functions: First, they alter the membrane fluidity of cells; second, as signaling proteins, they control the activity of other genes in a cell’s genome. In this way, steroids can change cell function without affecting cellular DNA. For example, when a single gene in a cell activates a transcriptional regulatory protein, which then causes another gene to activate itself, one type of steroid usually leads to another.
Steroids can stimulate or inhibit the activity of cells, tissues, organs. They are used for treating various disorders such as: cancer, inflammation, anemia, muscle wasting, heart diseases, osteoporosis and other cardiovascular problems. Also used to treat patients with diabetes, they increase the metabolic rate of the liver.
As well as being widely used as medicines, steroids are also used for surgery, injection and topical application. Steroid injections, for example, may be injected into the body of an anesthetized patient in order to stop seizures, decrease pain, and to reduce the risk of infection. Steroid injections are also used to relieve pain in people with arthritis.
Steroids may be used in a topical application for a variety of conditions. Topical steroids are generally applied on the skin to reduce redness and itching after a minor injury or inflammation. The use of corticosteroids can also help reduce scars and prevent new ones from forming.
Steroids are also widely used in the field of cosmetic dentistry. Their use in the treatment of toothaches, for example, has proven to be successful in many studies. They are also used in making fillings and crowns stronger and in preventing root resorption in teeth.
Steroids are essential to the functioning of the human immune system and the elimination of waste products that may accumulate in the body. They are also vital to the development of healthy bones and teeth. Oral steroids are also used to increase the strength of bones and make the teeth stronger.
Steroids are not without side effects, however. Some of them can cause kidney stones, heart attacks, infections and tumors.
In some instances, steroid use can lead to the cessation of hormone therapy. However, most of these cases do not require any intervention, and hormone replacement therapy is usually discontinued because of the associated risks. In other cases, steroid use can cause acne and rashes. Androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) has also been reported in some patients.
Some of the most common side effects of steroids include: headache, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, depression, irregular heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, restlessness, muscle cramps, urinary tract infections, hives and skin rash. In rare cases, steroids may cause death.
Many side effect categories are not necessarily exclusive. The treatment of all possible steroid side effects will depend on the nature of the underlying problem. In some cases, an individual should avoid all steroid treatments until an assessment has been made to rule out other serious health conditions.
Physicians, patients and their families need to educate themselves about the dangers and side effects of steroid use. Steroid-related deaths are rare, but serious complications do occur. It is therefore important that people using this drug take responsibility for their health. By informing themselves about the risks, the side effects and their consequences, they will be able to avoid having to suffer the consequences.
Many of these dangerous health risks include: liver disease, kidney failure, osteoporosis, heart attack, breast cancer and liver cancer, nerve damage, and depression. In addition, steroid abusers are at risk of sexual impotency, depression, bone thinning, kidney failure, and abnormal growth of breasts or testicles.
Another serious side effect of steroid use is the development of kidney stones. This is caused when the kidney’s filtering mechanism is unable to eliminate excessive quantities of water and protein from urine. In cases where kidney stone formation is a concern, it is often recommended that steroids are stopped and the kidneys monitored. Treatment should be performed when the risk of death is imminent.
There are many other side effect categories that affect different individuals, depending on the type of steroids they are taking. While steroids can be very effective at improving one person’s appearance, they can have very dangerous side effects. Therefore, it is important that patients and their family know what to look for to help in their decision making.