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Steroid Can Ease Severe Sore Throat
Date:8/7/2009

Single dose speeds relief but should be reserved for worst cases, researchers say,,

FRIDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A single dose of a corticosteroid, given along with antibiotics, can relieve severe sore throat pain faster and more effectively than antibiotics alone, a new study suggests.

"In people with severe sore throat, a single dose of an oral steroid is effective in relieving pain in 24 and 48 hours," said researcher Dr. Carl Heneghan, the deputy director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

This treatment is not advised for a mild sore throat, which will go away by itself, Heneghan stressed.

"If you turn up at your emergency department and you have really bad tonsillitis and you are in a lot of pain, an additional treatment is to take a single dose of a corticosteroid," he explained.

The report is published in the Aug. 7 online edition of BMJ.

Corticosteroids relieve pain by reducing inflammation and are commonly prescribed for conditions such as asthma and croup. Their use as a pain reliever for sore throat could help reduce the need for antibiotics, which can be overused and help create resistant bacteria, the U.K. researchers say.

For the study, Heneghan's group analyzed eight trials comparing the effectiveness of corticosteroids to placebo in adults or children with severe sore throats. In total, the studies included 743 patients, 369 of whom were children.

The researchers found that patients given corticosteroids plus antibiotics were three times more likely to report having no pain 24 hours after treatment compared with patients given antibiotics and a placebo.

After two days this effect was less apparent, which suggests that a single dose of corticosteroids is all that is needed, according to the researchers. In addition, corticosteroids also reduced the time it took to relieve pain by abo
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