Researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Center recently tested the effects of steroids on treatment of pneumonia and found one type of the said drug to have a potential in expediting patients recovery from the said disease. Corticosteroids, when added to traditional antimicrobial treatment, were found to help people with pneumonia to recover faster than if they took antibiotics alone.
Corticosteroids are not the same as the anabolic steroids used for muscle building which can be addictive. Corticosteroids are a type of steroids used for treating inflammation caused by infectious diseases like bacterial meningitis. Steroid therapy, however, must not be used for other types of infectious disease because it is ineffective against such and can even be harmful.
In the current study, which was published online and in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the researchers were able to show that mice with severe bacterial pneumonia recovered faster and with less lung inflammation when treated with a combination of steroids and antibiotics. This is in contrast with mice which were only received antibiotics.
The infected mice were treated daily with one of the following: a placebo, a steroid, an antibiotic, or a combination of antibiotics and steroids. The animals were evaluated after the first, third, and sixth day of receiving treatment. The group treated with the antibiotic-steroid combination showed the best progress, with their lung inflammation condition significantly better than the other groups.
This study contradicts the existing belief that steroids countervail the effects of antibiotics when the two are used in combination. As Dr. Robert Hardy, senior author of the study, explains, the antibiotics kill the bug that causes pneumonia while the steroids treats the lung inflammation caused by the infection. “The steroid don’t kill the bugs, but they do help restore health.”
“Although antimicrobials remain the primary therapy for M pneumoniae infection, there have been several reports in recent years about physicians adding steroids to the treatment regimen of patients with severe cases,” Dr. Hardy said. However, this previous evidence only pertains to individual case studies with no control groups.
These findings had various implications. It does not only indicate that antibiotics with steroids can help in faster recovery of pneumonia but also points to the possibility of using steroids to treat asthma attacked caused by M pneumoniae bacteria.
Dr. Hardy, however, warns that it is way too early to start prescribing steroids to patients with bacteria pneumonia. Clinical trials to test the effectiveness of corticosteroids in human cases are still needed before the drug is made available to the public.
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