Many abusers who inject anabolic steroids may use nonsterile injection techniques or share contaminated needles with other abusers. In addition, some steroid preparations are manufactured illegally under nonsterile conditions. These factors put abusers at risk for acquiring lifethreatening viral infections, such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. Abusers also can develop endocarditis, a bacterial infection that causes a potentially fatal inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. Bacterial infections also can cause pain and abscess formation at injection sites.
Corticosteroid myopathy presents as weakness and wasting of the proximal limb and girdle muscles and is generally reversible following cessation of therapy.
Corticosteroids inhibit intestinal calcium absorption and increase urinary calcium excretion leading to bone resorption and bone loss. Bone loss of 3% over one year has been demonstrated with prednisolone 10 mg per day. Postmenopausal females are particularly at risk for loss of bone density. Sixteen percent of elderly patients treated with corticosteroids for 5 years may experience vertebral compression fractures. One author reported measurable bone loss over two years in women on concomitant therapy with prednisolone mg per day and tamoxifen. [ Ref ]
During conventional pharmacologic dose corticosteroid therapy, ACTH production is inhibited with subsequent suppression of cortisol production by the adrenal cortex. Recovery time for normal HPA activity is variable depending upon the dose and duration of treatment. During this time the patient is vulnerable to any stressful situation. Although it has been shown that there is considerably less adrenal suppression following a single morning dose of prednisolone (10 mg) as opposed to a quarter of that dose administered every six hours, there is evidence that some suppressive effect on adrenal activity may be carried over into the following day when pharmacologic doses are used. Further, it has been shown that a single dose of certain corticosteroids will produce adrenal cortical suppression for two or more days. Other corticoids, including methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone, prednisone, and prednisolone, are considered to be short acting (producing adrenal cortical suppression for 1¼ to 1½ days following a single dose) and thus are recommended for alternate day therapy.