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Corticosteroids May Speed Pneumonia Recovery in Some
Date:5/31/2011

d be weighed against the potential disadvantages of these drugs, such as superinfections and gastric disturbances."

Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the findings were in line with what he might expect.

"It doesn't surprise me because corticosteroids are used as nuclear anti-inflammatories," he said, noting they might suppress an otherwise lingering fever within 24 hours. "And they would mask a lot of symptoms and make a patient feel generally better whether they're asthmatics or have some inflammatory disease."

"But the downside," he cautioned, "is that we know that corticosteroids are immune-suppressive. And so the possibility exists that when you use them, you could be prolonging the actual recovery time even as you are masking the symptoms, although this study doesn't say that."

This is a potential danger for otherwise healthy people and especially so for those who have high blood pressure or diabetes, he said. "So any medication is a double-edged sword," he added. "And the use of corticosteroids in this case has to be weighed against possible complications."

More information

For more on pneumonia, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Alan Mozes

SOURCE: Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, and Northshore-LIJ Health System; The Lancet, news release, May 31, 2011


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