Most bodybuilders use steroids in their routine. But if you’re just starting out bodybuilding, you need an explanation of how they work. If you’re wondering how steroids work or the number of body functions that steroids can affect, it’s important to know the difference between corticosteroids and anabolic-androgenic steroids.

Understanding steroids functions, in general, is important for anyone who is considering steroid use, whether a doctor prescribes them or you’re obtaining them illegally. Steroids are prescription-only drugs due to their potency, their potential for misuse and abuse, and their ability to affect a number of body systems. And like any other drug, there are side effects and adverse reactions that might occur in the body.

How do Steroids Work?

The answer to this question depends on what kind of steroid. Corticosteroids are often used in the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Corticosteroids are manufactured by the body – more specifically in the adrenal cortex of the adrenal glands, located on top of each of the kidneys. However, sometimes, the body doesn’t produce adequate levels of corticosteroids to have an effect on certain conditions such as asthma or rheumatoid arthritis.

In such cases, corticosteroids may be prescribed and taken orally, inhaled, or injected. Prescription or synthetic corticosteroids are designed to resemble the hormone cortisol. Corticosteroid hormones can affect not only the immune system and its functions but the metabolism. They work by reducing inflammatory responses.

On the other hand, there are the Anabolic steroids, often called anabolic-androgenic steroids or AAS, basically affect the strength of muscles and can increase endurance and stamina, as well as the production of testosterone in the body. This steroid is often grafted like the male sex hormone testosterone and it produces a similar effect, often in more than the locally produced hormone.

Medical Uses of Steroids      

Steroids, even more popularly known for illegal use, are a medical drug that is prescribed by doctors to various illnesses. They can adequately treat and reduce the severity of symptoms of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. They can increase sperm production, impact strengthening capabilities, and increase muscle mass.

Such treatments are beneficial for individuals with low testosterone levels or for those diagnosed with the muscle-wasting syndrome (cachexia) often related to HIV, AIDS, or some cancers.

Side effects and Adverse Reactions

Steroids, especially anabolic steroids that are not used under a doctor’s oversight, can contribute to a number of negative effects on the body.

Steroids can affect the brain. Steroids can influence the responsiveness and development of neurons in the brain and throughout the central nervous system.

Natural steroid hormones (endogenous or body-produced) include testosterone, estrogen, and cortisone. They bind to neurons, where they trigger short and some long-term changes in the activity of neurons.

In some cases, long-term use of prescription corticosteroids can cause excessive levels of hormones in the body.

Steroids have also been linked to an increased potential for developing cardiovascular disease and disorders, as well as increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels that can increase the risk for heart attack or stroke.

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