- Section Writer: [[Dr. Om J Lakhani]]
- Section Editor: [[Dr. Om J Lakhani]]
- <a href="https://storyset.com/work">Illustration by Freepik Storyset</a>
- For corresponding notes for doctors/healthcare professionals, please click the link below
- [[An overview of the pharmacological uses of Glucocorticoids]]
- Q. What are steroids ?
- Steroids are organic compounds with four rings in a very specific molecular configuration .
- They are extensively found in plants and animals
- Q. What are the functions of steroids in living beings ?
- Steroids have two main function in a living thing:
a) They are part of the cell membrane
b) they act as hormones or signalling molecules in living things
- Q. Does the human body have steroids ?
- Yes. The human body, just like any other living thing is full of these “steroids”
- Steroids are NECESSARY for the human being to survive. Without steroids, there is no human life.
- Q. Which are the common hormones in our body which are “steroids” ?
- Cortisol is the most important steroid in the human body. It is formed by adrenal cortex. Again, there is no life without cortisol. Cortisol is a form of a Corticosteroid since it is formed by the adrenal cortex. It is also called a “glucocorticoid”
- Beside cortisol, there are several other steroids in the human body. The sex hormones- testosterone and oestrogen are also forms of “steroids”
- Q. What is the colloquial usage of the term steroids ?
- What non-medical people understand as steroids are basically two things:
- a) Steroid used an abused by athletes and body builders. The correct terms for these are “anabolic steroids”
- b) The steroids used in clinical medicine. These include “steroids” like hydrocortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone. Dexamethasone is currently in vogue because of its extensive use in management of COVID-19 infection
- Q. Are “Steroids” safe ?
- Now that depends on what steroid you are talking about.
- Steroids are per se necessary for the human body to survive. So the steroids formed without your own body, are absolutely essential for survival.
- However, if you are talking about steroids given from outside as medicine, just like any medicine, the correct use of the same is not only safe but also life saving.
> Incorrect use of any medicine, be it a steroid or anything else is dangerous.
- Q. Let me rephrase it, are “anabolic steroids” abused by sportspersons safe ?
- No. They are absolutely NOT safe. They cause dangerous, long lasting and severe side effects.
- The abuse of these anabolic agents is rampant in worldwide and it is an pandemic which we are failing to recognise and curb.
- If you are an athlete abusing anabolic, contact your Endocrinologist ASAP.
- Q. What about the use of steroids in COVID-19 ?
- Generally steroids like Dexmethasone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone etc have been used In selected sick patients with COVID-19.
- Several studies have found the use of Dexamethasone to be life saving in selected patients with COVID-19. ^[RECOVERY Collaborative Group. Dexamethasone in hospitalized patients with Covid-19. New England Journal of Medicine. 2021 Feb 25;384(8):693-704.]
- If your treating doctor prescribes you “Steroids” for COVID-19, it is most likely indicated and may be lifesaving for you. Hence it is advisable NOT to interfere with ongoing treatment without having a complete knowledge about the same.
- Having said that, you are always free to seek a second opinion on the topic and may seek an opinion of another qualified doctor if you need to
- Q. What is the commonest side effect of dexamethasone or other steroids used in COVID-19 ?
- In some patients Dexamethasone can increase the blood sugar levels even in people who may not have diabetes mellitus. In people already having diabetes, the blood sugars can get worse.
- However, there is now extensively knowledge and expertise on managing steroid induced hyperglycemia.
- Doctors dealing with this can look at our RCT on this topic at : https://www.ijem.in/text.asp?2017/21/6/836/219325
- We have also made a video recently on the topic at :
- <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CioU1Y_1MO8" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
- Q. What are the other side effects of steroids ?
- We are coming up with a note on the same soon. So watch this space
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