TUESDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with an inflammatory lung condition known as community-acquired pneumonia appear to recover faster when treated with corticosteroids in addition to the standard regimen of antibiotics, Dutch researchers say.
Those treated with a combination of corticosteroids and antibiotics also required a shorter hospital stay than patients treated with antibiotics alone, the study authors found.
The observations stem from what is believed to be the largest study to date focused on the potential of corticosteroids for the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia, or CAP.
Dr. Sabine Meijvis, from the St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands, and colleagues reported their findings in the May 31 online edition of The Lancet.
Meijvis and her team noted that, currently, CAP is typically treated with antibiotics following an early diagnosis.
To explore whether corticosteroids might reduce the risk for complications and fatalities, the team focused on just over 300 Dutch CAP patients. Half of the patients were placed on a standard antibiotic protocol coupled with 5 milligrams a day of the corticosteroid dexamethasone. The other half were given antibiotics plus a placebo (an inactive treatment).
After four days, the research team found that those given the corticosteroid experienced less lung inflammation, and recovered more quickly than those who were just given antibiotics.
The corticosteroid group also required one less day of hospitalization than the antibiotic group (6.5 days versus 7.5 days). In addition, by the end of one month, the corticosteroid group had experienced better "social functioning" relative to the antibiotic group, the investigators found.
"Serious adverse events were rare" among the corticosteroid group, the study team noted in a journal news release, while at the same time cautioning that "the benefits of corticosteroids shoul
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