What are steroids? These are hormones that occur naturally in the bodies of healthy individuals. They play a vital role in some bodily functions such as reducing body inflammation by blocking the production and release of histamine chemical during allergic reactions. Many people have heard about steroids from its illegal use in athletics. However, the steroids currently being used for medicinal purposes are artificially produced but serve equally well. Nevertheless, despite their increased use in the treatment of various diseases, there still lies large informational gap about what are steroids, their efficiency and side effects on the users as well as their interactions with other medicines.
How different are oral steroids?
The steroids taken by mouth, also known as corticosteroids or cortisone are primarily used for medicinal purposes and have been approved as treatment options by the national drug agencies in different countries, including the United States. They are different both in composition and purpose from their anabolic counterparts used by the athletes for body building and performance enhancement. This difference is quite evident right from their application and uses whereby while the anabolic steroids online are injected directly into the body and bloodstream, most cortisones are ingested orally and synthesized in the digestive tract before eventual absorption into the bloodstream through the liver.
The different types of steroids
Just like most of the conventional medicine, oral steroids are available in various forms with most of them available in the tablet, soluble tablet, and liquid forms. Different manufacturers have branded their particular products differently, but the bottom line remains that, they are all steroids. The most commonly used steroids today in treatment and prevention of various diseases include the cortisone, hydrocortisone, the prednisolone, and methylprednisolone. Each of these has its different easy way of interacting with the body as well as its fair share of side effects.
When should steroids be used as medication and what are some of the diseases they cure?
In most instances, oral steroids are prescribed when the patient’s body is unable to synthesize its steroids. The other exceptional case when they are prescribed is when the steroids produced in the patient’s body are insufficient and overwhelmed by the current illness. These steroids work by blocking DNA from being made, suppressing the body’s immune system as well as blocking the production of histamine, a chemical released by irritated cells during allergic reactions that causes inflammation of the body.
Therefore, these particular steroids can be used in the treatment of any disease, infection or ailment that involves meeting any of the above conditions. For instance, they are used in the treatment of the inflammatory bowel diseases such as the ulcerative colitis or Cohn’s disease that are caused by internal cell and organ inflammations. By suppressing the immune system, they also make it possible to treat autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune hepatitis that would be impossible to treat using the conventional medicine.
Nonetheless, it is in the treatment of allergies and asthmatic conditions that steroids ingested by mouth use have gained a wider reception mainly because of their high efficiency. It is highly observable that one of the key roles of steroids in the body is reducing inflammations. Therefore, with these two illnesses, categorized as inflammatory diseases, it is no wonder that the steroids turn out as efficient.
Additionally, to some extent, steroids are increasingly being incorporated in the treatment of different cancers either as the primary or supportive medication.
The side effects of using orally ingested steroids as treatment options
Despite the high efficiency of these steroids as a treatment option, extra care should be taken in their consumption. For instance, these treatment options should be administered irregularly and should only last for a short duration. For example, even in the treatment of the severest asthma attack, it is highly recommended that the treatment course doesn’t exceed two weeks. This reduces the chances of the patients developing side effects from the medications.
Common side effects
The side exhibitions of side effects by individuals on oral steroids medication are influenced by such factors as the duration, under which the person has been on medication and their body’s general immune strength and tolerance to external substances. However, some of the common side effects include:
• Increased blood pressure
• Thinning of bones (Osteoporosis)
• Mood swings and behavioral changes
• High blood sugar
• Skin problems; prolonged healing and stretch marks
In most cases, persons exhibiting steroid side effects have continually undertaken these medications for an extended period of time, usually exceeding two months. Individuals taking in short courses repeatedly are also at a high risk of exhibiting side effects to the drug. It is common belief that the longer the duration you take with the dose, the greater danger of contracting these side effects. So how can these side effects be avoided where the present ailment dictates that you have a high dosage either continually or in short but successive intervals? Most practitioners will advise with starting with a high steroid dose and then reduce it gradually within the shortest time possible as the symptoms of your illness go down.