Steroid Abuse and Hepatitis

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Last Updated on May 19, 2021 by

Steroid abuse and other performance-enhancing drugs are becoming increasingly popular in sports. Their use has become so widespread that some athletes will feel that they won’t be successful if they don’t use them. On the other hand, steroid abuse carries significant health risks, including the possibility of developing a chronic and possibly fatal case of hepatitis. According to the Mayo Clinic, steroid use can cause liver disorders and tumors. How Do Steroid abusers Get hepatitis?

How Does Hepatitis Affect You?

Hepatitis is a condition in which the liver swells and becomes inflamed. Other factors, such as chronic alcoholism and steroids abuse, can cause liver damage, even in the absence of a virus. A variety of factors determines hepatitis incidence. Hepatitis A is the least serious type of hepatitis; it is normally short-lived, and patients typically recover without medical intervention.

Hepatitis B is a more severe infection that causes liver inflammation as the body’s immune system tries to combat the infection. If the body is able to effectively combat the infection, the symptoms should go away after a few weeks or months. Hepatitis C, also known as HCV, is the most severe type of the virus and is linked to steroid abuse. People who have hepatitis C often have no symptoms at first, so they may be entirely unaware that they have the disease. During the initial stages of Steroid Abuse, some people may develop Jaundice (yellowing of the skin), but it usually goes away after a few days. Otherwise, the individual can appear to be perfectly normal before advanced liver damage symptoms appear.

The virus may have already caused severe scarring of the liver, known as cirrhosis, by the time it is detected. In addition to causing liver cancer, Hepatitis C is also a cause of steroid abuse. Hepatitis C is normally chronic, and treatment involves eliminating the virus from the bloodstream while reducing liver harm. Some cases of liver disease may be challenging enough to require a liver transplant in order to save the patient’s life; however, many transplants result in the patient contracting hepatitis again after the transplantation Steroid Abuse.

How Do Steroid Users Get Hepatitis?

Steroids can harm the liver and induce hepatitis. Steroid abuse occurs when athletes use excessive amounts of steroids, increasing the risk of liver damage. The consequences of taking such heavy doses of steroids are unknown. Clinical studies containing exorbitantly large levels of steroids would put the research subjects at risk of severe health issues, so they haven’t been performed. The majority of evidence for the effects of high doses of steroids comes from studies of individuals who took the medications independently. Although steroids are used for medical purposes, excess doses can also cause liver damage, which means the risk of Steroid Abuse increases with increased doses.

Indirectly, steroid abuse can induce hepatitis if a contaminated needle is used during the intravenous injection. Infection with the virus Steroid Abuse can cause infection with hepatitis if the blood of an infected individual gets into contact with the blood. Hepatitis is a possibility for anyone who injects drugs of any kind, and steroids are no exception.

It is clear that corticosteroids significantly impact the liver, especially when used for prolonged periods and in higher doses than those normally associated with Steroid Abuse. Glucocorticoid use can cause hepatic enlargement, steatosis, and glycogenosis. Corticosteroids may cause or aggravate nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. In addition to chronic viral hepatitis, steroid abuse can worsen the condition. Importantly, Hepatitis B reactivation and worsening or de novo induction of autoimmune hepatitis can all be fatal if corticosteroid medication is combined with withdrawal or pulse therapy. Finally, high doses of intravenous corticosteroids, particularly methylprednisolone, have been linked to acute liver injury, leading to acute liver failure and death. Consequently, corticosteroid-induced liver damage usually results from either activation of the underlying liver disease or the worsening of it Steroid Abuse.

Although corticosteroid medications can cause liver steatosis and enlargement, it is not often clinically evident, especially among adults with Steroid Abuse. This effect will happen quickly and is quickly reversed when the effect is stopped. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis has been linked to high doses and long-term use, with steatosis, chronic inflammation, centrilobular ballooning degeneration, and liver histology similar to alcoholic hepatitis steatosis inflammation, and centrilobular ballooning degeneration, and Mallory bodies (Case 1). Conversely, sympathetic liver damage due to corticosteroid-induced steatohepatitis is rare Steroid Abuse. Furthermore, rather than causing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease from the start, corticosteroids can exacerbate the condition. The deterioration could be due to glucocorticoids’ direct effects on insulin resistance or fatty acid metabolism. The weight gain could be associated with long-term use of corticosteroids Steroid Abuse. Although simple steatosis caused by corticosteroids is easily reversible, steatohepatitis can take a long time to heal after corticosteroids are stopped.


The deterioration of an underlying untreated viral hepatitis is a serious side effect of corticosteroid treatment. In chronic hepatitis B, corticosteroids can increase viral replication and serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA levels while lowering serum aminotransferase levels. The underlying liver disease will, however, worsen as viral replication increases. As corticosteroids are eliminated or reduced to physiological levels, hepatitis worsens Steroid Abuse. As the immune system recovers, hepatitis worsens, and serum aminotransferase levels will rise to 10- to 20-fold higher levels, typically followed by a rapid drop in HBV DNA levels.

In some cases, this flare-up of disease can be dangerous, resulting in acute liver failure or a worsening of chronic hepatitis, as well as the development of cirrhosis (Case 2), a condition associated with steroid abuse. Indeed, even patients in the “inactive carrier states” (as shown by the presence of HBsAg in serum without HBeAg or detectable HBV DNA or any elevation in serum aminotransferase levels) will experience severe reactivation of disease and acute liver failure as a result of a short course of high-dose corticosteroids, such as those used in cancer chemotherapy or the treatment of severe autoimmune conditions) will experience severe reactivation of disease and acute Hepatitis B reactivation may be avoided with prophylactic antiviral treatment during immunosuppression. Still, even this may not be enough to prevent liver injury.


Corticosteroids tend to exacerbate the course of chronic hepatitis C as well, but not as dramatically as chronic hepatitis B. Steroid abuse may worsen the underlying liver disease HCV by causing an increase in the RNA levels of HCV. Chronic hepatitis C tends to be more serious and difficult to treat in patients undergoing chemotherapy or immunosuppression, and corticosteroids are thought to play a role. Patients with chronic viral hepatitis should be monitored closely to avoid corticosteroids Steroid Abuse.

Since corticosteroids are used to treat autoimmune hepatitis, they are more likely to help than damage patients with this disorder. Whenever steroids are stopped, a relapse of autoimmune hepatitis can occur, which is usually severe and fatal Steroid Abuse. Importantly, several de novo severe autoimmune hepatitis cases have been identified in patients who received a short course or pulse of corticosteroids for another unrelated disorder (such as asthma or allergic reactions). A mild or subclinical case of autoimmune hepatitis may have been present before administering corticosteroids. In these cases, Steroid Abuse. The disease’s suppression was accompanied by an immune rebound, resulting in the clinical presentation of the disorder. Usually, when back on corticosteroids, these patients respond well, but they can need long-term, even lifelong, immunosuppressive therapy afterwards Steroid Abuse.


Finally, there have been many reports of an acute hepatitis-like liver injury that can be serious and sometimes fatal after a brief, high-dose course of intravenous methylprednisolone, and in which viral hepatitis and autoimmune hepatitis are not explicitly involved (Case 3). The cause of this apparent hepatotoxicity is unknown, but it may be severe autoimmune hepatitis caused by rapid immunosuppression and subsequent immune reconstitution. The majority of cases occur within 2 to 6 weeks of stopping methylprednisolone, and a marked elevation in serum enzyme levels is a sign of steroid abuse.

These episodes are usually symptomatic and can be life-threatening. Steroid Abuse can occur without autoantibodies and with rare allergic immune system symptoms. Acute liver failure has occurred in many cases, resulting in death or the need for an immediate liver transplant. In this scenario, restarting corticosteroids may be necessary, but it has not been thoroughly evaluated, and several cases have resolved spontaneously. Methylprednisolone exposure at high doses often leads to recurrence of injury, often more rapidly and severely Steroid Abuse.

Abuse with Steroids and How to Get Rid of It

Steroid use to enhance athletic performance is particularly dangerous; users risk having severe health conditions such as chronic hepatitis. Steroid abuse can become addictive. Current views recommend that treatment for steroid use address the underlying causes of steroid abuse.

This Can Include:

  • Endocrine therapies restore function in those suffering from hypogonadism and alleviate symptoms of depression.
  • Antidepressants for those whose depression does not respond to endocrine therapies.
  • Pharmacological and psychosocial treatments for patients who are also dependent on opioids, which appear also to be effective in alleviating signs of anabolic steroid dependence.

Our certified addiction counsellors will answer your questions about steroid addiction. Call our toll-free helpline at 615-490-9376 if you or anyone you know needs care for steroid abuse.