The side effects from steroids can be very serious and even fatal. But from the information we gathered in the past few years, it seems to me the side effects are not as serious as the media makes them out to be. Because of the media over exaggerating the side effects, this has turned many people way from steroids. There will only be short descriptions for the side effects now, and in the future we will add more to the side effects when we have time.
This is most common from using steroids. It is a “puffiness” or swelling in the neck and facial areas. It is rather notable mainly if you know the person is on steroids. For example, we know someone that took steroids but we did not know it at the time. After we found out, if we looked his face we would wonder how we couldn't notice he was on roids before. It can be mild swelling or very serious, obvious swelling.
Everyone knows about acne, and is one of the side effects we worry about the most for us. It is also a very common side effect, it can give acne to someone who has never had acne, and it can make acne worse for others. It can also appear in new places for a person, such as, the back and neck. There have been several users that have not received acne on the other hand.
It may not sound familiar but most people have heard about it. It is the formation of breasts, or abnormally large glands. The first signs are lumps under the nipples, then will gradually grow to fatty tissue and increase in size.
Aggression, also know as “roid rages”. Surprisingly, several athletes feel this is a positive effect. They often find they lift more, and are more intense during workouts. On the negative side, users find themselves fighting with family, friends, and co-workers with an uptight behavior.
High blood pressure is also a chance when taking steroids. Most athletes would not know if they had high blood pressure so it is suggested to get tests regularly. High blood pressure can lead to many more serious diseases.
Studies have shown that steroid use is a risk factor for heart disease. This is because steroids affect the cholesterol levels. Over a period of time the cholesterol builds up and clogs the arteries.
Heart palpitations have been reported by a number of athletes on steroids. These may indicate an excited or elevated level of the central nervous system.
Impotence occurs when a user goes on and off steroids. When steroids are first used sexual interest increases because of the heightened frequency and duration of the erections. But eventually the opposite happens and no erections can be produced.
A serious liver disease, which is found by an enlarged painful liver, yellowing of the eyes and skin, and flu like symptoms. This happens when athletes use high dosages of steroids.
Here are some more possible side effects from:
Irritation of the stomach lining. Steroids can increase the production of stomach acid and lower the production of protective stomach mucus. This can irritate the lining of the stomach and may cause or aggravate a stomach ulcer. To reduce this side effect the tablets should be taken with meals or milk. Tell your doctor if you have indigestion, stomach pains or abdominal discomfort.
The levels of sugar in your blood may change temporarily. This may happen if you have high-dose or long-term treatment. While you are having your steroid therapy your blood sugar levels will be checked regularly by blood tests. You may be asked to test your urine for sugar. You will be shown how to do this. Tell your doctor if you get very thirsty or if you are passing more urine than usual.
Fluid retention due to changed salt and water balance. You may notice that your ankles and/or fingers swell. Some people have a bloated feeling in the abdomen. This is usually only a problem with long-term treatment.
Increased appetite. You may notice that you feel hungrier than usual while taking steroids, and this can make you want to eat more than usual. If you are concerned about weight gain speak to your doctor or contact Cancer BACUPs information service.
Increased chance of infection and delayed healing of injuries. This happens mainly with high-dose or long-term treatment. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection (inflammation, redness, soreness or a temperature) or if cuts take longer than usual to heal. It is important to maintain good personal hygiene to prevent infection.
Menstrual changes. Women may find that their periods become irregular or stop.
Behavioral changes. You may notice mood swings, difficulty in sleeping and perhaps anxiety or irritability. These happen mainly with high-dose or long-term treatment and will stop when the steroid therapy ends. Tell your doctor about any behavioral changes which are worrying you. Difficulty in sleeping may be reduced by taking the steroids in the early part of the day, but discuss this with your doctor first.
Less common side effects
Eye changes. With long-term use of steroids, cataracts or glaucoma may develop. There is also an increased risk of eye infections. Tell your doctor if you notice any eye problems.
Cushing's syndrome. This is usually caused only by long-term use of steroids. It can cause acne, puffiness of the face, dark marks on the skin and facial hair in women. Cushing's syndrome can be partially reduced by taking the steroids early in the morning, by taking them on alternate days instead of every day, or by reducing the dose, but discuss this with your doctor first.
Muscle wasting. With very long-term use of steroids, wasting of leg muscles may occur. This can cause weakness. When the steroids are stopped some people experience muscle cramps for a short time.
Osteoporosis. With very long-term use of steroids, calcium may be lost from the bones. This can result in pain (especially in the lower back), an increased susceptibility to fractures and loss of height.
Other side effects include: enlarged prostate, premature hair loss, sterility, shortness, and head and stomach aches. Please e-mail us if you know any more important side effects we missed, thank you.