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All About Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms

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Steroids are probably one of the most popular medical items that are used in every field these days.

From treating medical conditions to improving performance while exercising, steroids work as a helper for all.

Steroids work wonders because of their capability of stimulating hormones in the body to provide better performance or better conditions.

The not-so-surprising part is that excessive consumption of such steroids may be very harmful to your health. This could further cause measured medical conditions.

These conditions may get too fatal for a person to heal from. One such condition is steroid withdrawal syndrome.

In this article, we will discuss steroid withdrawal and discuss the major problems of it and how it could cause fatal results.

Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms

Steroid withdrawal is something that could affect your life. While it is recommended not to stop taking steroids immediately, a major amount of symptoms can be witnessed if you do so.

  • Tiredness

    Severe fatigue where it can get hard for one to perform daily tasks. One might also crave steroids. 

  • Affected Sexual Health

    Loss of libido, stamina, and difficulty in arousal[1] are also symptoms of steroid withdrawal.

  • Joint Pain

    You might experience joint pains in the knees, elbows, or any other joint. These joint pains can range from mild to moderate to severe resulting[2] in fatal health issues.

  • Loss Of Appetite

    Besides all the problems, one might get to face loss of appetite due to the loss of consumption of a steroid that your body has gotten used to.

  • Other Symptoms

    Decreased[3] blood pressure, weight loss, and diarrhea are also sometimes observed.

    All these events might even happen if one tries to taper the steroids easily and slowly. These problems will be mild and small in case you follow the right method and go away in no time.

     In case these conditions stick, you might be in a dire need of medical attention. 

    Consumption of some steroids like Prednisone for longer times can cause major issues as well. The consumption of steroids depends on diseases and use cases. 

    Some diseases require a heavy dose of a steroid to get fast results. On the other hand, some diseases require a lighter dose of the same. This is the only reason why you should stick to a prescription quite well. 

    With this, one may use steroids after consulting a well-known and trusted doctor and following the procedure he provides.

What Is Steroid Withdrawal?

Steroid withdrawal is when a person abruptly stops the consumption of any certain type of steroid that the person usually consumes.

Doing so may cause major health problems which may start from mild issues. While the abrupt withdrawal of consumption of the steroid seems like a normal practice, it tends to give you a hard time.

 Doctors usually prescribe steroids for treating problems like arthritis, lupus, asthma, skin conditions, or other major health problems.

On the other hand, trainers recommend steroids for better performance or fulfillment of certain bodybuilding requirements. 

Yet, both personnel specifies a dosage that gradually curtails over time. This is done to avoid any complications that certain withdrawal of steroids may cause.

Side Effects Of Steroid Withdrawal

There are a lot of steroids existing in the world. Many steroids have side effects in excessive consumption. Others have side effects of abrupt withdrawal.

Some steroids do not have any side effects at all. One such steroid is a corticosteroid. This steroid is a synthetic cortisone medication used to stimulate cortisol.

It is not safe to say that steroids do not have side effects. Continuous treatment from steroids can cause major problems.

  • Brain Health

    These steroids directly connect[4] with the pituitary gland in the brain, it holds a high risk of brain-related problems.

    Excessive consumption of corticosteroids can severely affect the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis chemical in the brain.

  • Mild Side Effects

    Other symptoms are body aches, mood swings, extreme fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, joint pain, loss of appetite,  nausea, and weakness. 

    Several side effects can be seen if an abrupt withdrawal happens[1]. This is recommended to stick to the steroid plan if one follows it.

Why Does Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms Occur?

Our body produces enough to serve the basic functions of the body. Out of all the hormones it produces, one of them is cortisol. It is better known to the layman as the stress hormone. 

But besides stress, it regulates blood pressure and the heart. Now, if a person consumes steroids like prednisone, it acts as the cortisol hormone.

So the body stops producing this hormone in the same amounts it used to before steroid consumption. 

Once the person stops consuming this drug, the body fails to readily adapt to the change and produces enough[5] hormones.

As a result, functions like memory, blood sugar control, blood pressure, and metabolism are.

Treatment For Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Use Of Antidepressants

    Antidepressants are used to treat one of the biggest symptoms of steroid withdrawal i.e. depression.

  • Anti Psychotic Medication

    To ease up the symptoms, doctors recommend anti-psychotic or anti-manic medicines. This is a short-term prescription[6] that may last only up to 2 weeks.

  • Home Remedies

    Besides, other symptoms like lack of sleep, fatigue, and loss of appetite can be improved with some home remedies and lifestyle changes.

Duration Of Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms

The duration of restoring complete normal functioning depends upon factors like 

  • How long the steroid treatment was carried out
  • How strong the dosage was and if it was a case of abuse
  • Type of steroid used

Normally, the treatment may take anywhere between 2 to 8 weeks. However, some steroids may lead to prolonged withdrawal symptoms. These may take up to a year to disappear completely.

Steps To Prevent Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Stick to the doctor’s prescription. Do not go beyond the recommended dose. 
  • Change your dose only after asking a healthcare expert. If you start developing any of the symptoms, talk to your doctor to change the plan accordingly. 
  • Do not stop the steroid treatment suddenly. The withdrawal should be slow and gradual giving the body time to adjust. 
  • Short-term use of steroids

Conclusion

Steroids are used to treat several medical conditions like chronic pain,  swelling, redness,  asthma, and eczema. However, getting off this drug is not easy. 

Long-term use of steroids shows adverse symptoms. Nevertheless, both long and short-term steroid treatments come with an attached risk of withdrawal symptoms. 

Loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue, body pain, and nausea are a few of the numerous problems steroid withdrawal can cause. 

The first step to make the process easy is to take it slow. A sudden stoppage of the medicine is hard for the body to deal with. Lifestyle changes like exercising, stress management, sleeping on time and healthy meals are great coping mechanisms for the body. 

However, if the symptoms are not mild, consulting a doctor is the right choice. They may prescribe certain drugs or change the plan for good.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Muhammad Yasir; Amandeep Goyal; and Sidharth Sonthalia. Corticosteroid Adverse Effects. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531462/
  2. Faziana Wahab, Razlina Abdul Rahman, Lili Husniati Yaacob, et. al. A Case Report of Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome. Korean J Fam Med. 2020 Sep; 41(5): 359–362. Published online 2020 Sep 18. doi: 10.4082/kjfm.18.0181
  3. D E Hricik, J Lautman, M R Bartucci, et. al. Variable effects of steroid withdrawal on blood pressure reduction in cyclosporine-treated renal transplant recipients. Transplantation. 1992 Jun;53(6):1232-5.doi: 10.1097/00007890-199206000-00012. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1604477/
  4. Miriam Ciriaco, Pasquale Ventrice, Gaetano Russo, et. al. Corticosteroid-related central nervous system side effects. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2013 Dec; 4(Suppl1): S94–S98. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.120975
  5. Leon Margolin, Doris K Cope, Rachel Bakst-Sisser, et. al. The steroid withdrawal syndrome: a review of the implications, etiology, and treatments .
    J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007 Feb;33(2):224-8.doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2006.08.013. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17280928/
  6. Grace Huynh and Justin P. Reinert. Pharmacological Management of Steroid-Induced Psychosis: A Review of Patient Cases. J Pharm Technol. 2021 Apr; 37(2): 120–126. Published online 2020 Dec 2. doi: 10.1177/8755122520978534

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