Ever since the emergence of COVID 19, there has been a lot of research into possible cures and vaccines. It was in one of these frantic studies that researchers discovered the positive effects of steroids on Covid 19.
It was discovered that when Covid 19 patients that were seriously ill underwent treatment with the use of steroids, the possibility of Covid 19 fatality was reduced by as much as a third. The impressive feedback from the studies did not escape the notice of the World Health Organization (WHO) which recommended on the 2nd of September, 2020 that corticosteroids should be used in the treatment of critically sick Covid 19 patients especially as a preliminary and first-line form of treatment.
It is important to note that when it comes to Steroids and Covid 19, patients with a mild, asymptomatic case of Covid 19 should not be treated with roids because they could be exposed to very serious health risks and side effects from steroid use.
Steroid and Covid 19: What you should Know
When treating serious Covid 19 infections, it is important that the patient’s immune system does not exhibit an inflammatory response to the infectious disease. This is where the immune system is excessively aggressive in dealing with the threat of the invading virus, as this can easily result in the partial or permanent damage of the vital organs of a patient.
To this end, it is necessary to calm the immune response of a Covid 19 patient before and during treatment. When a person is infected by the Covid 19 virus, their immune system responds by sending out white blood cells to combat the virus, but in doing so, other healthy cells tend to fall victim to the actions of the white blood cells.
With an inflammatory response, the white blood cells may continue to be active even after the virus is no longer present in the patient. This can cause more harm than good to the patient, as healthy cells are damaged. An overaggressive immune system response can lead to a host of health issues including; respiratory, circulatory and kidney failures.
However, to tackle this overaggressive, inflammatory immune system response in seriously ill Covid 19 patients, first-line corticosteroids treatment is advised. The steroids will help to curb any possible damage to vital organs, such as: the kidneys and lungs.
Patients with respiratory system complications as a result of their serious Covid 19 infection tend to respond well to using low doses of steroids. As a matter of fact, in a Steroids and Covid 19 study, it was discovered that patients that were critically ill from Covid 19 and were treated early with corticosteroids had a much faster response to treatment than patients that were not treated with steroids.
Also, patients that were not treated with steroids had a higher fatality rate within a month of being infected with Covid 19 than those patients that began a corticosteroids course early into their infection.
Though the use of steroids in the treatment of inflammation-based chronic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus (autoimmune disorders) and asthma has been known in the medical world for decades now, they do pose some health risks, such as: muscle weakness, hyperglycemia, gastrointestinal bleeding and an increase in fungal as well as bacteria infections.
In addition, when steroids are used for a significant length of time in patients with Covid 19, they can be exposed to other health risks including glaucoma and osteoporosis. However, despite the health risks, treating patients with severe cases of Covid 19 using steroids will offer more benefits than harm.
Steroids for Covid 19: Type, Doses and Duration of Treatment
With the famed REMAP-CAP research, hydrocortisone was used in treating Covid 19 while other trials have used dexamethasone and methylprednisolone. If the steroid being used offers anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid action, such a steroid will most likely be effective in the treatment of severe cases of Covid 19.
The dosage, timing of treatment and duration of steroid use when it comes to treating severe cases of Covid 19 is very important. The dose is usually low while the duration of steroid use is short in order to prevent patients from experiencing very serious side effects from steroid use. WHO actually recommends the use of low steroid doses over a 7 to 10 day period.