There are times when you will need to give your child medications that you may question, but are helpful to your kids. Steroids is one of those, and you may have lots of concerns if your child needs to take these strong medications.
Is it safe for a 10 year-old boy to have steroids? The answer is more complex than a simple “yes” or “no,” but the bottom line is that if your child’s pediatrician has given your child steroids, there is a good reason and they are safe to give your child.
If you have more questions on what steroids can do or how they can benefit or harm your 10 year-old son, check out the information listed below on steroids.
What Are Steroids and How Do They Work?
Steroids, also known as corticosteroids, are synthetic drugs that resemble cortisol, which is a hormone your body produces. Steroids decrease inflammation and reduce the immune’s system activity. They are used to treat various diseases and conditions, such as arthritis, respiratory viruses, asthma, and more.
Corticosteroids are not the same as anabolic steroids, which build bigger muscles and are often abused. Corticosteroid medications include triamcinolone, cortisone, prednisone, and methylprednisolone.
Steroids can be given topically through a cream or ointment, by oral medication, mist, or by injection, either into a vein, muscle, joint, bursa, or around tendons and other soft tissue regions.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic and made to mimic testosterone. Health care providers prescribe these types of steroids to treat hormonal issues and diseases that cause muscle loss.
Why Do People Take Steroids?
Many people take steroids because they need them for pain, health issues (either long term or short term), or to help with delayed puberty or muscle weakness. Other people do abuse them, though, for enhancing their muscle size and performance. This is especially common in athletes.
A doctor will prescribe your 10 year-old steroids if they need them for health conditions, but you should not allow your child to use anything other than what they are prescribed. Many enhancement drugs that are not legal, or those you would obtain without a prescription, have harmful chemicals that can have severe side effects.
One of the most common reasons for a child to take steroids is for easing the symptoms of asthma, help with cancer treatments, or to assist with growth if other avenues have failed.
Side Effects Of Steroids
While most people know that anabolic (or performance enhancing) steroids can have serious negative side effects, it’s important to remember that corticosteroids can also have severe negative side effects. Some of those include:
Probably one of the most well-known side effects of steroids is mood swings, which is especially common in doses over 30 milligrams per day. You can feel happy, sad, mad, or all three within a matter of minutes.
Steroids can cause insomnia, which will lead to sleep deprivation. This can lead to a host of other health issues if it is not treated properly.
Steroids affect your metabolism, which can increase your appetite and lead to weight gain. One issue with this is that increased weight can make your dosage of steroids not work as effectively, leading to a need to increase dosage or a need to discontinue use.
Your immune system can become suppressed when you take steroids too long, which can increase your risk of infection. This can also lead to you getting sicker with whatever condition called for you to use steroids, in the first place, or can open you up to the risk of other illnesses.
Gastrointestinal Ulcers or Bleeding
Steroids may increase your risk of developing ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding.
Steroids can cause cataracts or glaucoma, or make these conditions worse in people who already have them.
Hardening of the Arteries
Steroids may increase hardening of the arteries and can increase your risk of heart disease.
Fluid Retention and Elevated Blood Pressure
Cortisone helps regulate the body’s balance of water and sodium. Using steroids can promote fluid retention and can lead to high blood pressure.
Elevated Blood Sugar
Cortisone helps maintain normal levels of sugar in the blood, so long-term use of steroids may lead to elevated blood sugar or diabetes.
Steroids can cause your bones to thin, which can lead to breaks. Breaks in bones can lead to risk of infection.
Steroids can lead to the decaying of bone, especially in the hip joints. If you are taking steroids for inflammation, dying bones can increase pain.
Sore Throat And Hoarseness
If you take steroids via mist, such as an inhaler for asthma, you may develop a sore throat caused by fungal infection or swelling of the throat from the mist irritating your soft tissues. This symptom should not last long.
Acne And Skin Issues
Steroids can make you produce more sweat, which can lead to clogged pores. It can also alter your hormones, which can lead to acne and skin conditions.
Development of breast tissue in men.
Altered Response to Physical Stress
Taking steroids, of any kind, for more than two weeks, can lead to your body having a decreased ability to respond to physical stress. This occurs because your adrenal glands may not react normally. This effect can last up to a year after stopping steroid use. This can cause your blood pressure to drop, dramatically, during trauma to the body, which can send you into a coma or even organ failure.
Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome
Fatigue, joint pain, muscle stiffness, muscle tenderness, and/or fever can all happen when you stop taking steroids. These can all exacerbate the reason you were on steroids to begin with.
Increased and prolonged use of steroids can lead to impotence and erectile dysfunction in men.
Benefits Of Steroids
While the side effects all seem scary, there are many benefits to taking steroids. Those include:
Help with Asthma
Help with chicken pox and other viral diseases
Help with loss of testicular function
It should be noted that local steroid injections are less likely than other forms of steroids to produce serious side effects, so they are the preferred method. These can be injected directly into the site, and localize any effects of the drugs.
Does Your Child Need Steroids?
If your child has a medical condition that needs steroids to help correct or alleviate symptoms, then it is safe for them to use steroids under the recommendation and supervision of a skilled pediatrician.
If you are still worried about negative side effects, you can take precautions to help off-set the side effects your 10 year-old may experience. To do so, try these tips:
1.) Try lower doses or intermittent dosing so that your child is not exposed to full doses at once.
2.) Use inhaled or injected corticosteroids as they have less side effects.
3.) Eat a healthy diet and exercise to keep your body strong
4.) Get vaccines, especially the flu shot, to keep germs at bay while your immune system may be compromised
5.) Take calcium and vitamin D supplements to help with bone strength
6.) Seek a doctor’s care and guidance to slowly wean off of steroids
7. Wear a medical alert bracelet in case of emergency
8.) See your doctor, often, to make sure your health is okay
By doing these simple things, you can help keep your body healthier, despite what the steroids may do to it, and by following these rules for your 10 year-old son, you will give him a strong chance at being healthy even while on steroids.
When It Is Not Safe for a 10 Year-Old Boy to Have Steroids
Children entering puberty should be monitored closely if they are on steroids. In fact, they should be delayed in taking them for anything other than serious health conditions. While some pediatricians are quick to give a 10 year-old steroids when they are developing slowly, it may be beneficial to wait and see how puberty affects your child.
It is important to remember that not all children develop at the same rate, and children are growing and changing rapidly at 10 years of age. In fact their bones are not fully developed, nor are their brains.
If you introduce them to something like steroids, you could impact their development, rather than help it. They could end up with a lifetime of health and mental issues that cannot be undone.
While it is generally well-known that you should never give your child steroids unless it is prescribed by a physician, many parents don’t heed this warning and that is how around five percent of boys and four percent of girls around the age of 10 have been given illegal steroids by their parents.
Children who have been given steroids too early in life can develop not only an addiction to them, but a dependency that can have serious consequences if they are taken off the medication. Those consequences include:
Stunted brain growth
Starting your child on steroids, young, can lead to steroid abuse later on. This is a serious problem in today’s society. While steroid abuse was once seen as something reserved for athletes, that is no longer the case.
Stay-at-home-moms enjoy the energy they get from it. Teenage girls like the boost to their metabolism. College aged men like feelings of being stronger.
All of these positive benefits can lead to addiction, which can then lead to the negative side effects listed above. It can also lead to death, and has been linked to premature deaths in young men.
Many people who buy off the black market get veterinarian grade steroids, meant for dogs, cats, and even livestock. While the dosage given to a dog or cat may not be too high for human consumption, steroids meant for cows or horses will have a much higher dosage due to their weight, which is much higher than that of a human’s weight. This high dose of hormones can cause heart attacks or organ failure if humans ingest it.
Other illegal sources come from Mexico and European countries, and they may or may not be pure steroids. If they are not, they could be laced with narcotics or other drugs that your child may be allergic to, which can lead to their death.
When It Is Safe for a 10 Year-Old Boy to Have Steroids
While many parents are, understandably, worried about the side effects of steroids, the good news is that it is generally safe to give your child prescribed steroids. In fact, there are some studies that show that steroids can calm babies with croup or colic, and can help children who are having issues with growth.
If your child needs steroids for a diagnosed medical condition, using them for your 10 year-old’s benefit far outweighs any side effects they may experience.
As always, consult with your doctor before giving your child any medication, and make sure they are regularly assessed for side effects when the do have to take something as serious as steroids. Always follow instructions, and listen to medical advice, and if your child needs steroids they should be safe.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare