Steroid therapy is using steroid medications, also known as corticosteroids, to treat various kinds of autoimmune disease, including myasthenia gravis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, along with other disorders, such as for example asthma. Steroid medications include medications like prednisone and cortisone. Corticosteroids could be prescribed to be taken orally or in other ways, such as by inhalation.
In accordance with Western medicine, steroid medications are medically essential to treat many conditions and diseases. It is important not only to follow the recommendations of your medical expert regarding steroid use, for those who have decided steroid therapy is right for you personally, but additionally to explore other medical options when you have second thoughts about steroid medications.
Is steroid therapy right for you personally?
Steroid medications have major effects on the metabolism of calcium and bone. Steroid therapy can result in severe bone loss, osteoporosis, and broken bones. High dosage of steroid medications can cause rapid bone loss, around around 15 percent per year. For anyone who is on steroids, you are more than twice as more likely to have a spine fracture as compared to an individual not taking steroids. Fracture risk increases as the daily doses of steroid medications increases. The major impact of steroid medication on bone is fractures (broken bones) that occur most commonly in the spine and ribs. There are different rates of bone loss among individuals on corticosteroids. Bone loss occurs most rapidly in the initial six months after starting oral steroid medications. After 12 months of chronic steroid use, there is a slower lack of bone. However, it should be mentioned that not all patients who take steroid medications experience bone loss.
Other adverse unwanted effects of steroid medications are elevation of blood pressure, weight gain, decreased resistance to infection, indigestion, thinning of skin, and potential development of cataracts and glaucoma.
Let me relate my very own experience with steroid therapy.
I was identified as having myasthenia gravis in the past. Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal (voluntary) muscles of your body. The hallmark of the disease is muscle weakness, which increases during periods of activity and anxiety, but improves after periods of rest and calm. Certain muscles, such as the ones that control eyes and eyelid movements, facial expression, talking, chewing and swallowing tend to be involved in this disorder. Furthermore, the muscles that control breathing, neck, and limb movements may also be affected.
Due to myasthenia gravis, I had developed ocular symptoms, such as for example ptosis (drooping of eyelids) and diplopia (double vision), and weak neck and limb muscles. Fortunately, I did so not have weakness of the pharynx muscles, that could cause difficulty in chewing and swallowing, as well as slurred speech in many cases of myasthenia gravis.
I was prescribed steroid medications and had been on a steroid therapy for three years. In addition, I was also given medications to manage bone loss along with other side adverse effects associated with the use of steroids.
In my case, there is some improvement, but not significant enough to create me opt to continue the steroid therapy after three years of treatment. I had to balance the risks of steroids and the outward symptoms of myasthenia gravis.
My rude awakening came when I realized that my disease fighting capability, which was the cause of the disease to begin with, is not only a network of cells that would protect me in times of an infection, but also something with many regulatory mechanisms that, if uncontrolled, would become my enemy instead of my friend. More importantly, these steroids may control the symptoms of myasthenia gravis, but they may also impair my immune system with lasting effects on my general health and wellness further later on.
I recognized that the body includes a natural mechanism for self-healing, if given the appropriate environment. Accordingly, I took matters into my hands, and made a drastic decision to avoid my steroid therapy without consulting my physician (Warning: I really do not ask one to do exactly the same.) I stopped the medication very gradually. Meanwhile, I did everything to improve my immune system through a thorough detoxification program, and a big change of diet. I did not gain weight, my blood circulation pressure became normal and, most significant of most, my myasthenia gravis conditions didn’t deteriorate. Up to today, I still have some double vision, which I have learned to cope with (I could still drive), but my other symptoms have disappeared. I have already been off steroid therapy for more than one decade already.
Hippocrates, the daddy of medicine, once said: “No man is really a better physician than himself, who knows his own constitution.” No-one can decide for you what is best for your health. A doctor can only give advice, but you are the one who makes the decision on whether steroid therapy is right for you. Listen to your body.