Steroids are natural hormonal compounds, which have powerful effects on the human body. Steroids (e.g. hydrocortisone) are fabricated by the body from cholesterol and are essential to life. Their physiological functions are to influence the formation of glucose and encourage the breakdown of proteins. Cortisone causes fat to be released from some areas of the body and deposited in others. It helps to regulate bodily salt balance and the amount of water in tissues. It helps to form red blood cells and to maintain blood pressure. It is needed to maintain normal muscle strength but will not abnormally elevate muscular development. Bodily secretion of cortisone increases when a person is laden with negative stress.



Steroids are used to treat allergic and inflammatory conditions (particularly asthma) and in the treatment of skin conditions. Ointments should be used sparingly because of possible side effects. The main group of steroids are immuno-suppressants, which interfere with the ability of the bodies 'defender' cells to deal with incoming infection or poisons and are utilised in organ transplants, to prevent graft rejection. Steroids are used in the treatment of myasthenia gravis (a muscular wasting disease) one of the most successfully managed of the muscular disorders. Steroids have been used in the treatment of arthritis, but their use has been discontinued because of unwanted side-effects. In the case of asthma, steroids may be given by injection, in tablet form, or as an inhalant Inhalers are less hazardous than tablets or injections because the dose is smaller and most of it is not absorbed into the system.



Some of the functions of the body become exaggerated (e.g. high blood pressure and muscular weakness). In children, growth may be retarded and in adults, muscles may eventually waste and osteoporosis (loss of skeletal calcium) may develop, to the point where vertebra can collapse. Diabetes may develop. The face swells and becomes round and there are mental changes, which can range from over-cheerfulness to paranoia. The healing process becomes delayed, affecting ulcers and bodily injuries. The reactions of the body to infection alter, interfering with the diagnosis of disease. Prolonged steroid use affects the secretive capabilities of the suprarenal glands, affecting blood pressure and the bodies ability to handle proteins. This condition may continue for some years after steroid use has ceased and is threatening to life. From a Medical Practitioner's point of view, treatment of acute illness or injury in a patient who has been a chronic steroid user is complicated. Diseases associated with an increased level of steroids include:- depression; cancer; hypertension; ulcers; heart obesity; stroke; psychoses of aging; skin diseases; Parkinson's disease; multiple sclerosis; myasthenia gravis and (perhaps) Alzheimer's disease. Increased levels of steroids have been reported as a predictor of suicides. Steroid creams thin the skin and increase susceptibility to infection. Withdrawal from steroid therapy can cause intensification of original symptoms. In the case of asthma, steroid inhalers provide good relief but bring a decreased resistance to infection, especially fungus infection of the mouth and throat. Female production of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone may be affected, with consequent disruption of the menstrual cycle.



Steroids depress the immune system (along with cycotoxic chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, negative stress, malnutrition, microbes, alcohol and a selection of other drugs and allergens). By raising levels of certain steroids in the blood-stream, stress can depress the immune function. Chronically unrelieved levels, resulting from unrelieved negative stress, may be a causal factor in the development and maintenance of chronic diseases. Hydrocortisone reduces the level of T helper cells and increases T suppressors, whilst inhibiting the production of natural killer cells. It also reduces production of interferon, a virus fighting agent.



The use of steroids in sport is extremely dangerous, from a medical point of view. There is no conclusive evidence that their use either helps or hinders athletic performance. Their use does not bring about any significant improvement in strength, aerobic endurance, lean body-mass or body -weight. The prolonged use of steroids in sport has resulted in liver and other disorders for a variety of users. Some of these complaints are of an irreversible nature. The administration of steroids to males may result in a decrease in testicular size and function and a decrease in sperm production. It is not certain that discontinuing the dosage after a prolonged period of time will repair this damage.



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