Athletes are often under a lot of pressure to perform, and the desire to win at all costs can be very strong. These pressures make some athletes turn to performance-enhancing drugs.
A performance-enhancing drug is a substance used to boost athletic abilities. Because of their health risks and the fact that they offer an unfair advantage, they are widely banned by athletic organizations.
Common performance-enhancing drugs include:
By using performance-enhancing drugs, athletes are risking a lot more than their careers. These drugs can cause serious side effects.
Misusing anabolic steroids and androstenedione can cause the following effects:
Creatine can damage the liver, kidneys, or heart if used at high doses. It can also cause stomach cramps, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, fluid retention, or diarrhea. Plus, some of the inactive ingredients in creatine supplements can cause a serious allergic reaction.
Stimulants can cause nervousness and irritability. Misusing stimulants can lead to addiction, sleep problems, high blood pressure, heart problems (e.g., heart attack, heart rhythm abnormalities), seizures, and hallucinations.
Misusing diuretics can cause dehydration, muscle cramps, and irregular heart rhythms.
Misusing erythropoietin can lead to heart disease, strokes, and blood clots in the lungs or brain.
So, athletes beware: think twice before using performance-enhancing drugs. You could be putting your health at risk.
Trish Rawn, PharmD
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