Steroids are commonly associated with a substance designed to increase muscle volume. However, they are widely used in the treatment of many diseases. What are steroids, in what cases are they recommended and what are the dangers of taking them?!
What are steroids?
Steroids is a colloquial term for steroids, i.e. lipid compounds of animal or plant origin. In humans, steroids exist as steroid hormones produced by the adrenal glands. There are two groups here: mineralocorticosteroids and glucocorticosteroids. The former are responsible for the water and mineral regulation of the body, the latter have an anti-inflammatory effect.
When are steroids used?
As medicinal substances, mineralocorticoids can be used to treat hypertension. In turn, glucocorticosteroids (e.g. cortisol and cortisone) are mainly responsible for regulating the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They are released as a response to stressful situations in the body. Natural and synthetic glucocorticosteroids have anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects (suppression of the immune system), hence their use in autoimmune diseases.
Glucocorticosteroids are used, inter alia, in in:
- allergic rhinitis (nasal glucocorticosteroids – reduce inflammation of the nasal mucosa)
- asthma (inhaled glucocorticosteroids – inhibit bronchial inflammation and gradually eliminate asthma symptoms)
- inflammatory bowel diseases (intravenous – in acute cases – anti-inflammatory effect)
- eczema and atopic dermatitis (topical glucocorticosteroids in acute inflammation – comprehensive action: antiallergic, relieve swelling and itching, inhibit inflammation)
- COPD (inhaled glucocorticosteroids are used in acute conditions of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – they inhibit bronchial inflammation)
- urticaria (oral glucocorticosteroids – when antihistamines are ineffective; immunosuppressive effect – preventing or suppressing cellular immune reactions)
- sciatica (orally or intramuscularly – glucocorticosteroids reduce the inflammation around the nerves and thus relieve pain)
- multiple sclerosis (intravenously or orally – anti-inflammatory effect)
lupus (the method of administration depends on the organs involved – immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects)
- arthritis and muscle tissue inflammation (orally, directly into the joint or intramuscularly – in the initial stage of the disease and in acute inflammation – glucocorticosteroids inhibit the permeability of capillaries and thus reduce swelling)