Oral Steroids (Steroid Pills) Side Effects

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Man-made steroids, known as corticosteroids, are a manmade version of the natural steroids found in the human body. Natural steroids are hormones found in the body such as testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH). 


While steroids are used to treat diseases, most people know steroids as performance enhancers that help people get the most out of their workouts. These anabolic steroids are generally different from corticosteroids. Steroids are available as creams, ointments, injections, liquids, and tablets. Today we’ll be taking a look at the potential side effects of oral steroids/steroid pills. 

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Do Steroids Cause Side-Effects?

Steroids in general don’t cause side-effects if they are taken on a short-term basis. A one or two week course of steroids might be needed for asthmatics, who should be able to take them with no potential side effects. 


Steroid side effects are more common when people take bigger doses for longer periods of time. Greater doses come with a greater risk of side effects. Be sure to read the information label and consult a medical professional to get the best possible care. 


What are the Potential Side Effects of Oral Steroids?

The benefits of taking steroids are often worth the risk with potential side-effects. There are some side-effects that could prove to be more troublesome than others though. The following are some of the main side effects of taking oral steroids


  • Bone Thinning (called Osteoporosis)

Osteoporosis is one of the worst side-effects of taking steroids, but try not to worry about it too much. There are medications you can take alongside steroids that reduce the risk of osteoporosis. A biphonation helps to prevent bone loss from steroids. 


  • Weight Gain 

Steroids are known to cause weight gain, particularly around the face. They can lead to puffiness in the face. 


  • Increased Infection Risk 

One side effect of steroids is that they can weaken the immune system. This means that you are at a greater risk of developing infections such as chickenpox. Many people develop chickenpox as a child and are immune to it as adults, so that isn’t much of a concern. However, you should still take good care of yourself and avoid risk factors for disease while using steroids. 


  • Increased Blood Pressure 

It’s worth having your bleed pressure checked regularly when using steroids. Doctors can give you medication to reduce blood pressure if needed. 

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  • High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycaemia) 

The potential for increased blood sugar when taking steroids means that you have to be extra careful if you have diabetes. Some people may develop diabetes while taking steroids, particularly in the long-term. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about steroids and blood sugar – especially if there’s a history of diabetes in your family. 


  • Skin Problems 

Steroids can cause wounds and injuries to heal slowly, as well as make it easier for your skin to bruise. Watch out for stretch marks when taking oral steroids. 


  • Muscle Weakness 

The muscle weakness caused by steroids tends to go away when you come off the oral steroids and it can be treated with physiotherapy if needed. 


  • Behavior and Mood Changes 

Some people feel better when they take steroids and see the improvements to their body. Others suffer from behavioral changes as steroids can aggravate mental health problems like depression. Steroids also cause new problems to develop – in particular aggression issues. 


Changes to behavior and mental health generally occur within the first few weeks of beginning treatment. Higher doses come with an increased risk of this side effect. Some people become irritable and confused when taking steroids. They could become deluded or even develop suicidal thoughts. The good news is that the side-effects go away when you stop taking steroids. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you notice any changes to your mental health and wellbeing. 


  • Increased Risk of Developing Ulcers 

Steroids cause an increased risk of developing stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers. Discussion any stomach or intestinal pains you develop with your doctor. 



Keep in mind that these side effects are all “potential” side effects, meaning not everyone will develop them. Some people go through an entire steroid cycle without developing a single side effect. With that said, you should still watch out for them and discuss any changes to your health with your doctor. 


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