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Usage of Steroids for Coronavirus Treatment

Updated: Aug 3

Did you know? The global topical corticosteroids market is expected to reach $4,440.38 million by 2024, from $2,828.36 million in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 5.8 percent, states a study by Research and Markets.

This doesn’t end here!

According to a recent analysis, conducted by a team at the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that dexamethasone and other corticosteroid drugs are effective treatments for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. The drugs can probably reduce 28-day mortality in patients with critical COVID-19 as compared to standard care or a placebo. The meta-analysis of 7 randomised controlled trials consisted of 1700 patients that underwent coronavirus treatments.

As quoted by Jonathan Sterne, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Bristol University, “Steroids are a cheap and readily available medication, and our analysis has confirmed that they are effective in reducing deaths amongst the people most severely affected by COVID-19”.

Sterne participated in the meta-analysis and claimed that the results were consistent across trials, irrespective of the age or sex.

In this regard, the organisation has issued new guidelines highlighting safe use of the drugs in the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. Wait! Do you know what steroids are? Head down.


What are Steroids?

Steroids (short form for corticosteroids) are synthetic drugs that closely resemble cortisol - a hormone that is produced by your adrenal glands naturally. They are designed to act like hormones to reduce inflammation.

They help in reducing inflammation and easing symptoms like pain, stiffness and swelling. It can relieve you from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (a situation where the immune system produces inflammation in the joints, which may cause severe damages if untreated).

During this pandemic, steroids have been beneficial for even the sickest patients diagnosed with COVID-19. REMEMBER THIS: They’re not a treatment for relatively mild cases. Basically, infectious diseases like COVID-19 have 2 key components: the infection and your body’s response to the infection.

People who are suffering from severe symptoms of COVID-19 have a poor immune system that can injure other organs. It’s essential to calm the immune system to prevent the infection from getting worst. What to know more about corticosteroids and how it works? Scroll further.


How do Corticosteroids Work?

Whenever an infection occurs, it triggers an inflammatory response, and the specialised white blood cells are activated that hunts down the virus or bacteria. It’s like a bomb effect wherein the immune cells attack and the inflammation experienced can damage other cells in the vicinity.

You will continue to experience the same even when the infectious agent is gone. This response may get out of control, and lead to respiratory failure and end up in shock or on a ventilator. A kidney failure can be the worse situation during a shock.

Patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms can prevent the progression of organ damage and calm the inflammatory response through corticosteroids. Scientists are still skeptical about the working of steroids.

According to several studies, COVID-19 patients suffering from respiratory complications can benefit from relatively low-doses of steroids. Recent studies have found that 4 weeks after the infection, the death rate was significantly lower in patients with severe COVID-19 who received steroids as compared to those who didn’t. In this situation, rush to your nearby COVID-19 hospital.

Dexamethasone and COVID-19

Corticosteroids (such as *dexamethasone) have proven to be the first life-saving drug wherein it’s likely to cut the risk of death by 1/3rd for patients on ventilators and for people on oxygen it cuts deaths by 1/5th. The drug has been a part of the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments that is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus.

*Dexamethasone is a type of corticosteroids that are used to reduce inflammation in people suffering from autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout. Thorough research into this drug by the University of Oxford proved that dexamethasone is effective in treating coronavirus patients with severe respiratory symptoms. Dexamethasone is a readily accessible drug that has improved survival rates in COVID-19 only when proper WHO guidelines are followed.


Steroids: An Elixir for Serious Coronavirus Patients

Corticosteroids (such as *dexamethasone) have proven to be the first life-saving drug wherein it’s likely to cut the risk of death by 1/3rd for patients on ventilators and for people on oxygen it cuts deaths by 1/5th. The drug has been a part of the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments that is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus.

*Dexamethasone is a type of corticosteroids that are used to reduce inflammation in people suffering from autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout. Thorough research into this drug by the University of Oxford proved that dexamethasone is effective in treating coronavirus patients with severe respiratory symptoms. Dexamethasone is a readily accessible drug that has improved survival rates in COVID-19 only when proper WHO guidelines are followed.


Steroids: An Elixir for Serious Coronavirus Patients

As a matter of fact, steroids have been the last resort in coronavirus treatment. The main concern is the side effects that are caused, including the uncontrolled rise of blood sugar and immunosuppression.

To prevent such negative impacts, some doctors in Chennai have proposed a different technique wherein they administer these corticosteroids using nebulisers to patients with mild to moderate symptoms. The medicine is inhaled directly into the lungs. This method is known to have fewer side effects as the steroids don’t pass through the bloodstream.

In a study published in the European Respiratory Journal, healthcare professionals have revealed that the use of inhaled corticosteroids may help in treating viral infections. Several studies have claimed that the comorbid conditions of patients should be taken into account before giving steroids. This means nebulised steroids can be used on people with a history of respiratory illness.

However, infectious disease experts have stated that nebulised steroids haven’t shown any evidence to save lives. All nebulised and inhaled steroids are known to have fewer side-effects and cannot be used to save patients. Infectious Disease Specialist at Apollo Hospitals, Ram Gopalkrishnan has said that, “Moderate doses of steroids through intravenous injections are safe to use and beneficial for COVID-19 patients.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough data to back the use of nebulised or inhaled steroids as an ideal treatment for COVID-19. It should be given after observing the recovery trials. Many pulmonologists say that nebulised steroids can reduce inflammation only in the airways and lead to fungal infections that are potentially harmful to COVID-19 patients.

You need to remember that: No treatment comes without risk.

Even the World Health Organisation recommends not using steroids for cases that aren’t severe. Let us tell you why.

Steroids are well-known immune-suppressing medications that are used for several decades. They are mostly used for treating chronic diseases that cause inflammation such as asthma, and autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

As said earlier, the potential issues related to steroids include hyperglycemia, muscle weakness, gastrointestinal bleeding and fungal infections. Patients with milder COVID-19 symptoms can risk their health to attain a little potential benefit.

In addition to this, long-term steroid usage can be risky, leading to several problems like a predisposition to infection and developing cataracts, glaucoma and osteoporosis. Steroids are a potential preventive measure that can backfire if you don’t adhere to proper guidelines. Get your COVID treatment in Vadodara!


Are Steroids Risky for Critically Ill Patients?

Did you think the same?

Patients on ventilation tend to develop hospital-acquired infections like pneumonia and other bloodstream infections such as intravenous catheters. Consuming steroids can enhance your risk of developing secondary infections and also impact your ability to come off the ventilator.

The benefits of steroids outweigh the harms, particularly for critically ill COVID-19 patients. The biggest challenge is deciding the timing and dose of the medication. Fortunately, steroid doses are relatively low and short duration. Earlier trials haven’t shown any negative impacts in using a low dose of steroids. Risk can increase with high doses. Even WHO recommends low doses for 7-10 days.


Steroids can Treat Severe COVID-19 Patients.

According to WHO standards, hospitalised patients with COVID-19 or pneumonia and require oxygen should receive a low-dose course of steroids. This also goes for patients admitted in the intensive care unit and on ventilation support who require more intensive organ support.

Steroids haven’t shown any benefit to asymptomatic patients or patients with mild symptoms and don’t have any pulmonary problems. We have concluded that steroids are clearly beneficial and have reduced fatalities. As India continues to fight against the virus, steroids can be an excellent alternative until we get the vaccine.

Till then, stay safe and reach out to Pranayam Lung & Heart Institute (PLHI) if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms. We have been offering best-in-town physiotherapy to COVID patients and have observed tremendous improvement in our patient’s health conditions. We offer physiotherapy to patients considering their present lung condition and past medical history. Check out this video!

We have experienced medical practitioners and professional doctors who have treated several coronavirus patients in Vadodara successfully. One of them is Dr Chaxu Doshi, a Senior Physiotherapist at PLHI who firmly believes that proper physiotherapy helps in speedy recovery. Read more below.

Also read: Returning to Exercising Post-COVID-19: What’s best for you?

Rely on the best COVID-19 hospital in Vadodara!

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