STEROID INJECTIONS AND THEIR SIDE EFFECTS
Definition of Steroid Injections
Steroid injections are one of the classes of anti-inflammatory medicines used for the management of several conditions, such as allergic and inflammatory diseases relating to the skin, lungs, joints, gut, etc.
They are synthetic derivatives of hormones that are naturally produced by the body, which supports the proper functioning of the body’s systems. The two main types are corticosteroids and anabolic-androgenic steroids.
TYPES OF STEROID INJECTIONS
They are artificially produced steroids that aid to fight inflammation in the body, just like the naturally occurring ones, Cortisone. They basically slow or inhibit the immune system processes that coordinates inflammatory responses. Corticosteroids are used in the management of the following clinical conditions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
- Lupus and other autoimmune disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rashes and skin conditions like eczema
Furthermore, there are several routes of administration of these injections, and the choice depends on the clinical outcome expected from the therapy. The routes commonly used are intra-articular (joint), intramuscular (muscle), and intravenous (through the blood). Although, the epidural route (spine) is not clinically approved for first-line administration, however, it is considered for off-label use. The following are examples of corticosteroid injections are; hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, dexamethasone, and methylprednisolone.
Side Effects of Steroid Injections (Corticosteroids)
Side effects of steroid injections may occur during the period of administration or as a result of long-term use, or abrupt discontinuation without the knowledge of the prescriber. However, there are both short and long-term effects of corticosteroid use. The following are common acute side effects;
- High blood pressure and body glucose
- Mood swings, memory loss, behavioral imbalances, and confusion
- Pain and stomach discomfort
- Weight gain
- Pale skin around the site of administration
- Redness and swelling
- Flushing of the face
- Fluid buildup toward the lower extremities
- Increased exposure to infections due to suppressed immune system.
- Acne and unusual hair growth.
Furthermore, the long-term side effects of corticosteroid use especially at high doses can result in the formation of brittle bones (osteoporosis), stunted growth in children, and adrenal insufficiency where the body is unable to respond to stress. Other manifestations include muscle weakness, and eye defects (cataracts).
Side Effects of Steroid Injections (Anabolic Steroids)
These steroids are artificial derivatives of testosterone, a natural hormone involved in male development. Anabolic steroids are clinically used in the management of delayed puberty in males, as well as, low testosterone, cancer-induced muscle mass loss, and related conditions. These steroids are typically administered intramuscularly, however, they are widely misused by athletes looking to build muscle and boost performance. This illegal exposure can have a devastating impact on health. The following side-effects associated with anabolic steroid misuse:
The use of high amount of steroid is also associated with damage to the heart’s chambers, causing an increase in the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), causing atherosclerosis; a condition in which fatty substances are deposited in the walls of blood vessels and disrupts blood flow to vital organs. Consequently, this condition can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.
Steroid use decreases the normal production of hormones in the body. Firstly, In males, it creates an imbalance in testosterone levels, which decreases sperm production and testicular function, increases baldness, gynecomastia (breast development), and risk of testicular cancer
Secondly, In females, steroid use can result in skin coarseness, decreased body fat, excessive growth of body hair, and breast size, and causes deepened voice. Although, the excessive use of anabolic steroids can result in irreversible enlargement of the clitoris, however, further studies on this are still ongoing to validate the claims.
Furthermore, the use of anabolic steroids is known to suppress the activities of the immune system, which further exposes the body to several infectious diseases, and can be life-threatening. In addition, the use and sharing of non-sterile injections during the administration of steroid injections pose a great risk for acquiring infectious diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
The abuse of steroid injections can damage the liver, resulting in a condition like Peliosis hepatis can rupture blood-filled cysts in the liver and cause internal bleeding, which can eventually result into death.
In the body system, the rise in testosterone levels and other sex hormones influences the various developments that occur during puberty. However, the excessive use of steroid injections can result to impeded growth, which affects the bones. Consequently, weightlifters who misuse anabolic steroids suffer from stiffer tendons, which could lead to a tendon tear.
Extreme use of steroids can cause severe acne, hair loss, jaundice, and abscesses around the injection sites causing pain.
Misuse of steroid injections can result in the breakdown of the nervous system, leading to various forms of aggression, mania, and delusions.
Some examples of anabolic steroid injections include the following;
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Firstly, Steroid injections are very important to clinical practice in the effective management of allergies and inflammations. However, misuse of steroid injections can have debilitating effects on the health and human survival; and it also increases the risk of contracting several infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis.
Secondly, restricting the access and monitoring the supply chain of these medications between suppliers and the general public; is one of the strategies used to curb their illegal use. Furthermore, a sane individual makes up a sane community, that builds up a healthy nation.
Lastly, always remember that the side effects of steroid injections can be life-threatening!
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