Knowledge Base

Side effects of Steroids

by Dr Vaid Ji on Sep 09, 2023

Side effects of Steroids

Steroids are substances that are naturally produced in the body. Steroids help to control many of the different ways our bodies work. They regulate the way the body uses fats, proteins and carbohydrates, the immune system, the balance of salt and water in our bodies, inflammation. Steroids can be made in a laboratory as drugs.

Why steroids are given?

Steroids are similar to hormones that your adrenal glands make to fight stress associated with illnesses and injuries. They reduce inflammation and affect the immune system. Steroids used to treat many conditions in which body’s defense system does not work properly and cause tissue damage. Steroids may be main therapy for certain diseases.  A steroid work by decreasing inflammation and reduces the activity of immune system. Inflammation is a process in which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals can protect against infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. In certain diseases the body’s defense system does not function properly, this cause inflammation to work against the body’s tissues and cause damage. Steroids used in the treatment for certain rheumatologic inflammatory conditions such as-

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Myositis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Systemic vasculitis
  • Steroids can be used in cancer treatment-
  • To prevent or treat an allergic reaction
  • As anti- sickness drugs
  • To help destroy cancer cells and make other cancer treatments more effective
  • To improve appetite
  • To treat inflammation caused by cancer treatment
  • To reduce cancer symptoms such as pain caused by swelling around a tumor

The most commonly used steroids are-hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, methylprednisolone, and prednisolone

How steroids are given?

You usually have steroids as a tablets that u swallow. If you have difficulty in swallowing, you take steroids tablets that dissolve in water.

  • Injections- steroids can be given through injection in the following ways-
  • Under the skin
  • Into a skin
  • Into a vein
  • Some steroids also come as liquid syrup

Side effects of Steroids-

The chances of side effects depend on the dose, type of steroid and length of treatment. Some side effects are more serious than others Common side effects include-

  • Changes in mood
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased growth of body hair
  • Swollen puffy face
  • Acne
  • Lower resistance to infection
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stomach irritation
  • Onset of or worsening of diabetes
  • Onset of or worsening of high blood pressure
  • Water retention
  • Nervousness, restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Cataracts or glaucoma
  • It is important to take steroids in proper dose exactly as prescribed by your doctor. After you stop taking steroids, then your body starts making its own steroids again. It can take a few days for this to happen. If steroid treatment is suddenly stopped, then you have withdrawal effects such as-
  • Aching muscles or bones
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Fever

To prevent this, you gradually reduce the dose, this gives your body a chance to adjust and get used to making its own steroids again.

Ayurvedic perspective on Treatment-

The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind and consciousness through diet, drinking, and lifestyle and through herbal remedies. Each person has a distinct pattern of energy, a specific combination of mental and emotional characteristics. In Ayurveda there are three basic energy types called doshas.,

  • Vata dosha- energy that controls body functions associated with motion, breathing, blinking, including blood circulation and heartbeat. When vata is in a balanced condition there is creativity and vitality. If vata dosha out of balance it causes fear and anxiety.
  • Pitta dosha- energy that controls the bodies’ metabolic systems including absorption, digestion, temperature and nutrition. When pitta is balance it leads to intelligence and contentment, if pitta out of balance it can cause ulcers and anger.
  • Kapha dosha- energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, nourishes the skin and maintains the immune system. In balance kapha is expressed as forgiveness and love. If kapha is not balanced then it causes insecurity and envy.

The goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to prevent diseases. Ayurveda is effective at reducing the risk of heart diseases.

  • Pranayama – breathing exercises. Pranayama helps you feel calm
  • Rasayana – using mantras during meditation combined with certain herbs for rejuvenation.
  • Yoga – combining pranayama, movement and meditation. It improves circulation and digestion and helps to reduce blood pressure, anxiety and cholesterol levels.
  • Pancha karma – it is a method of cleansing the body of all the unwanted waste after lubricating it. The five main karams to cleanse the complete body are –
  • Vamanam
  • Virechanam
  • Anuvasana
  • Nasyam
  • Astapana vasti
  • Herbal medicines – prescribing herbs to restore dosha balance.

Benefits of Ayurvedic Treatment-

  • Healthy skin and hair
  • Weight management
  • Stress management
  • Body cleansing
  • Manage blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Prevent immunity disorders
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and symptoms of illness and diseases

Ayurveda treatments improve your digestion and increase appetite and immunity. Ayurveda helps reclaim health with balanced dietary guidelines, effective sleep patterns, home remedies, and yoga and exercise patterns, daily and seasonal routines.