Steroid Health News

Steroids are often thought of as the illegal drug that bodybuilders and athletes use to gain muscle. But this is just one form of steroids, known as anabolic steroids. A variety of other steroids are legitimate medications that can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, asthma and some forms of cancer. The steroids used for medical purposes are sometimes referred to as corticosteroids, and are similar to hormones the body makes in its adrenal glands.


Legitimate Uses of Steroids

For asthma or other breathing problems like seasonal allergies, a doctor may prescribe corticosteroids. These can be inhaled with a nasal spray, or taken as a pill or shot.  Steroids are also sometimes injected to relieve joint pain related to arthritis or other causes. These can be administered to the back, knees, elbows and other parts of the body.


Steroids are also useful for treating skin conditions like eczema. They may be given in a pill form or as a steroid cream that provides more immediate relief of symptoms.  Steroids have also been used to treat digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis,  as well as autoimmune disorders like lupus and multiple sclerosis.

Steroid Risks and Side Effects

Legal steroids that are prescribed by a doctor are generally regarded as safe. But they are serious medications that can cause some side effects. Weakened bones and cataracts are just a few possible side effects of corticosteroids. And steroids can also cause a temporary delay in growth for children. For this reason, steroids are often not prescribed for a long period of time.  Anabolic steroids, the kind used for muscle growth, can pose a number of serious health risks to users and should be avoided.


SOURCES: U.S. National Institutes of Health; American Academy of Pediatrics; North American Spine Society; American Academy of Dermatology; Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America

Date Posted
Article Title
Steroid Pills Usually Ineffective Against Bronchitis, Study Finds

Research shows that, like antibiotics, these drugs won't reduce duration or severity of symptoms

Drug for Kidney Disease Tied to Infection Risk

Doctors should weigh risks, benefits related to corticosteroid use, study suggests

Drug Beats Steroids for Controlling Blood Vessel Inflammation in Study

With tocilizumab's approval, there's an alternative treatment for giant cell arteritis

Anabolic Steroids May Tax the Heart

Weight-lifters using the synthetic hormones have lower pumping capacity, study finds

Forget Steroid Shots for Long-Term Relief of Arthritic Knees

Noticeable cartilage loss detected in patients injected over 2 years, study says

Is It Wise to Take a Steroid for a Sore Throat?

Study seeking antibiotic alternatives found that only one-third of patients improved within 48 hours

Steroid Shots Offer No Long-Term Relief for Low-Back Pain

Pain reduction aimed at reducing disc inflammation doesn't last, study finds

FDA Warns of Dangers From Testosterone Supplements

Many American men take them, but heart and psychological issues can occur, agency says

Even Incomplete Steroid Treatment Helps Preemies: Study

Fewer deaths, complications for babies born extremely early

Bodybuilders' Steroid Abuse Linked to Pre-Diabetic Condition

Misuse of these drugs may interfere with how the body uses the hormone insulin, research shows

Combo Drug for Childhood Asthma Appears Safe in Study

FDA to review findings, researcher says

Steroid Treatments May Boost Preemies' Risk of Eye Problems

Babies with very low birth weights are often given steroids to improve lung function

Certain Steroids Raise Risk for Serious Staph Infections

Study finds long-term use of glucocorticoids may suppress immune system, upping odds for patients

Fewer Inhaled Steroids May Be OK for Asthmatic Children

Study suggests some kids don't need daily dosing, but one expert worries the strategy might have risks

Steroid Shot for Hip Pain May Carry Infection Risk If Too Close to Surgery

Hip replacement should be delayed for three months after an injection, researchers say

Young Athletes Pressured by Parents May Resort to 'Doping'

'Tiger parenting' can have dire consequences, researcher contends

Steroid May Be Safe, Effective Gout Treatment, Study Finds

Doctor says this appears to offer options for pain management

Steroids Might Help More Than Just Very Premature Babies: Study

Researchers found they reduced risk for respiratory problems in infants born at 34 to 36 weeks

Certain Antibiotic Might Combat Children's Wheezing Episodes

Kids given azithromycin were less likely to develop severe respiratory illness, study says

Challenges for Extreme Preemies Can Last into Teens

But majority of very preterm or very small newborns do well, experts say

'Tennis Elbow' Usually Heals Without Therapy, Study Finds

For most people, pain is gone within a year

Steroid Injections Probably Won't Help Your Lower Back Pain

Any relief is likely temporary, review of 38 studies says

Steroids No Better for Sciatica Pain Than Placebo, Study Finds

But taking prednisone was tied to small improvements in ability to perform daily activities

Some Tiny Preemies Show Poorer Mental Health in Adulthood

Greater risks for those exposed to steroid drugs in the womb, study says

FDA Advisory Panel Says Steroid Shots for Back Pain Can Continue

Experts decided against backing any new warning label for controversial injections

Skip the Steroids for Shoulder Pain?

Physical therapy as effective as injections, researchers say

Dangerous Use of Growth Hormone Surges Among U.S. Teens

Many young people are ordering dubious, hazardous products off of the Internet, researchers warn

Steroid Shots May Not Help Back Pain

Exercise or surgery might be better options for narrowing of the spinal canal, researchers report

Steroids May Not Be Wise Choice for Intensive-Care Patients

Johns Hopkins research suggests the possibility of delirium

Preventive Steroids May Not Help Heart Bypass

Common practice might instead cause harm, study finds

Steroids Often Prescribed for Psoriasis, Countering Guidelines

Their use may cause skin flare-ups and isn't backed by evidence, study author says

Common Asthma Meds May Raise Sleep Apnea Risk, Study Says

Preliminary finding saw possible link between certain inhaler drugs and the sleep disorder, but more research needed

Teens Who Indoor Tan Often Take Other Health Risks: Survey

CDC study tied practice to binge drinking, drug use and extreme weight control measures

Gay Teen Boys More Likely to Use Muscle-Building Steroids: Survey

They're also reporting heavier use, possibly putting themselves at risk for harmful side effects

Teen Boys Who Think They're Skinny May Be at Higher Risk for Depression

Studies found they were more likely to be depressed and bullied, even if their weight was average

FDA Warns Consumers Against Body-Building Supplement

Agency says Mass Destruction is linked to case of liver failure

Steroids for Preemies May Raise ADHD Risk, Study Says

Shots are given to boost lung development

Bodybuilding Boys Often Try Drugs and Alcohol, Study Finds

Preoccupation with body image can lead to risky behaviors, researcher says

Infections From Tainted Steroids Ranged in Severity: Update

CDC study looked at meningitis, other conditions in 6 hardest-hit states

Evidence Shows Steroid Used in Livestock Can Impact Waterways

A drug widely utilized in cattle does not fully break down in water as previously believed, study finds

Steroid Shots a Temporary Fix for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Study

Three-quarters of patients still had to have surgery a year later

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment May Not Work As Well for Heavier Patients

Although more medication taken by obese patients in study, remission was less likely

Man Relapsed After Treatment for Meningitis Tied to Tainted Injections

CDC continues to monitor patients sickened by shots from now-shuttered Mass. pharmacy

COPD Patients May Do Fine With Shorter Course of Steroids

Coming off meds sooner means fewer harmful side effects, study author says