Superstar steroid may fight COVID, but has nothing to do with muscles – The Province


Posted: June 23, 2020 at 9:50 am

Dexamethasone is a drug in the steroid family. Stock/Getty

Steroids are in the news again, and the story has nothing to do with muscles.

Were talking about dexamethasone, and its one of two main types of steroids known as corticosteroids and anabolic steroids. Also called decadron, dexamethasone is purported to help COVID-19 patients on ventilators. Not to be confused with those of the anabolic variety which build muscle mass, boost endurance, and increase endurance.

Corticosteroids are a classification of drugs that are meant to lower inflammation and reduce immune system activity in the body which is what makes dexamethasone effective in treating those who are severely ill with COVID-19. In these cases,scientists say the patients immune system goes into overdrive a state known as a cytokine storm and ends up attacking their own organs and cells in an attempt to fight off the virus. Dexamethasone is used to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system in cases where its not functioning properly.

Typically, the steroid is used by prescription to treat severe allergies, adrenal problems, arthritis, asthma, blood or bone marrow problems, kidney problems, skin conditions, and multiple sclerosis. It comes in many forms, in this case a tablet, elixir or solution.

Dexamethasone has been in use since the early 1960s. A list of potential side effects includes anxiety; behaviour abnormal; cataract subcapsular; cognitive impairment; Cushings syndrome; electrolyte imbalance; fatigue; fluid retention; gastrointestinal discomfort; headache; healing impaired; hirsutism; hypertension; increased risk of infection; menstrual cycle irregularities; mood altered; nausea; osteoporosis; peptic ulcer; psychotic disorder; skin reactions; sleep disorders; weight increase.

More uncommon side effects are increased appetite, eye disorders, heart failure, seizure, tuberculosis reactivation and vertigo.

Anyone taking corticosteroids is advised to avoid exposure to chicken pox and measles unless they have been exposed before, as its believed they place them at greater risk.

Anabolic steroids are the kind that most people, and many athletes, are more familiar with. They are synthetic substances meant to mimic testosterone. When taken illegally, meaning without a prescription, the doses are usually 10 to 100 times higher than what a doctor would prescribe to their patient.

A legal prescription is often meant to help with delayed puberty or certain genetic disorders. It can be taken as a pill, an injection into the muscles, or a cream or gel applied to the skin.

In men, anabolic steroids can cause infertility, breast growth, lower sperm count, and shrink ones testicles. In women, they can decrease breast size, deepen the voice, enlarge the clitoris and increase body hair.

In both men and women, anabolic steroids can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. Liver disease or liver cancer is also a possibility, heightened when taken in pill form. Other conditions include oily skin, acne, and male-pattern hair loss as well as irritability, rage, aggression, violence, uncontrolled high energy, false beliefs, and addiction.

Anabolic steroid use in teens has the same effects as in adults, and may stop them from reaching their full height and halt their bone growth. Like many drugs, there are side effects from withdrawal as well. This includes depression, fatigue and lack of appetite.

nsokic@postmedia.com | @Sokic_

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Superstar steroid may fight COVID, but has nothing to do with muscles - The Province

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