Oral Steroid Meds Ineffective for Chest Infections

Oral Steroid Meds Ineffective for Chest Infections

Doctors should not prescribe oral corticosteroids, such as prednisolone, to adults without asthma who have an acute lower respiratory tract infection — a “chest infection” such as bronchitis –- because they don’t relieve the severity of symptoms or shorten the time a patient experiences them.

Researchers in England studied about 400 non-asthmatic adults with an acute chest infection – but no pneumonia. The participants also did not require antibiotics. Half of them were given prednisolone and the other half were given a placebo for 5 days.

The median duration of cough, the main symptom of chest infections, was 5 days in both groups, the researchers reported in JAMA. There was also no reduction in the severity of other symptoms in the prednisolone group compared to those on a placebo. The study authors noted their findings indicates oral corticosteroids such as prednisolone should not be given to treat chest infections in non-asthmatic patients.

Oral corticosteroids are also associated with many potential side effects such as bruising of the skin, weight gain, weakening of the bones, high blood sugar levels, cataracts, and swelling of the feet or ankles.

“Chest infections are one of the most common problems in primary care and often treated inappropriately with antibiotics,” lead author Alastair Hay, a general practitioner and professor at the Bristol Medical School at the University of Bristol, said in a statement. “Corticosteroids, like prednisolone, are increasingly being used to try to reduce the symptoms of chest infections, but without sufficient evidence. Our study does not support the continued use of steroids as they do not have a clinically useful effect on symptom duration or severity.”


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


Did you find this article helpful?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest News

Covid-19: Side Effects of Trump’s Treatments

Covid-19: Side Effects of Trump’s Treatments

President Donald Trump announced (via Twitter, of course) what some considered unthinkable, and others considered inevitable — that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Over the weekend, he received various treatments  — supplements like vitamin D, zinc and melatonin, an experimental antibody combination, an antiviral drug and a powerful anti-inflammatory…

Un-Sheltering Tips for Your Health and Immune System

Un-Sheltering Tips for Your Health and Immune System

As we all emerge from our bubbles of limited contact with others, we are walking straight into the double whammy of flu season and COVID-19 germs. Can your body fight off exposure to the flu and COVID? Your immune system feeds off the basics of life — sleep, movement, food…

  • Advertisement