What are the effects of anabolic steroid use?

Most serious-minded athletes will inform you that the drive to win is intense. In addition to the pride of personal accomplishment, athletes frequently chase the dream of winning a medal for their country or getting a spot on a professional team. In such an environment, the usage of performance-enhancing drugs has become more and more common.

However, making use of performance-enhancing drugs has its risks. This means that you need to take the time to learn about the possible benefits, the health risks as well as the many unknowns regarding so-called performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids.

How do anabolic steroids work?

Anabolic steroids function by mimicking the characteristics of naturally occurring hormones:

  • Receptors which are present on muscle cells respond to a number of different types of hormones. Anabolic steroids possess a similar chemical composition to testosterone and are thus able to activate testosterone receptors.
  • As soon as the receptors are stimulated, a domino reaction of metabolic responses takes place as the drug directs the body to increase the production of muscle

Most steroid users inject amounts of anabolic steroids which are safe in the short term. This means that there is an extremely small risk of overdose. However, in the short term, there are still some significant side effects of steroid use. As anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of testosterone, adding them to a workout regime leads to many of the same symptoms as adding more dangerous testosterone injections. For example:

  • Men who take anabolic steroids may turn out to be bald.
  • Women who take anabolic steroids may end up growing facial hair. In addition, their voice may develop deeper tones.

These effects are usually ignored or downplayed by steroid users who are more likely to be focused on improving their physical performance as well as appearance.

What are the long-term dangers of anabolic steroid use?

There are a number of long-term dangers of anabolic steroids that exceed the immediate dangers of using these drugs. People who use anabolic steroids often can eventually succumb to liver failure. In addition, higher rates of cancer have also been seen in steroid users.

The psychological effects of steroids are being researched and there are also some indications that regular steroid use can cause a series of mental health problems. Suicide is a major problem among steroid users as is belligerence and violence. Steroid users may also be more prone to experiment with other drugs, particularly stimulants such as cocaine. This can lead to heath, coma, stroke or heart attack.  Depending on the type and among of steroids which are taken, other long-term effects may be possible.

What are catabolic steroids?

Catabolic steroids, which are also called glucocorticoids, are part of the body’s reaction to stress. The term ‘catabolic’ comes from the Greek word which means to “throw down” so these steroids help to break down larger chemicals into smaller ones. For instance, cortisol assists glycogen (a large molecule which is stored in the liver) to metabolise into glucose. This is a small molecule that can be utilised for energy by the body.

The adrenal glands make cortisol naturally and this is required for many of the basic functions of the body, including:

  • Glucose metabolism,
  • The immune reaction to infection, as well as
  • Protein, fat in addition to carbohydrate metabolism.

Prescription medications, for example, prednisone (Deltasone, Liquid Pred), hydrocortisone (Westcort) as well as dexamethasone (Decadron [discontinued], DexPak) are examples of steroids which are utilised to reduce inflammation as well as treat a variety of illnesses from asthma as well as COPD to rheumatoid arthritis in addition to allergic reactions. Small doses of hydrocortisone are the active ingredient in creams which help to treat the inflammation from insect bites, poison ivy, eczema as well as additional local skin irritations.

Knowing about the effects of anabolic steroid use is one of the things that a personal trainer needs to know.

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