Is It Wise to Take a Steroid for a Sore Throat?

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Researchers seeking new sore throat therapies report only modest good results with a single dose of a steroid medication.

Concerns about expanding bacterial resistance to antibiotics have led scientists to appear for alternative therapies for sore throat, a common purpose for medical doctor visits.

In this new British study, a steroid medication led to improvement in about a single-third of sufferers with sore throat.

But, two U.S. physicians stated they aren’t rushing to prescribe the drugs on the basis of these outcomes.

Steroid remedy “may mask a far more critical dilemma. That is genuinely fairly crucial,” said Dr. Robert Centor, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Most sore throats are fairly simple, but some are reasonably hazardous, and people can die or finish up in the ICU,” said Centor, who wasn’t involved in the study. “Steroids could suppress the symptoms that would give you a clue that anything bad is going on.”

Sore throat is especially frequent in young children and younger adults, Centor stated. “A lot of sore throats are viral, and [individuals] generally have a cough and not significantly of a fever. Individuals can usually still swallow meals.”

Physicians may prescribe antibiotics for sore throats, though they have no impact on viral infections, only bacterial ones. Alternatives are needed that lessen each symptoms of sore throats and antibiotic usage, the study authors stated in background notes.

The new study looks at a steroid — a drug made to dampen immune technique responses. Researchers led by Gail Nicola Hayward, of the University of Oxford, analyzed the effects of a single dose of dexamethasone. Comparable steroids incorporate prednisone and methylprednisolone.

The researchers randomly assigned 565 adults in England with a sore throat that did not call for an antibiotic to take a large dose of dexamethasone (ten milligrams) or a placebo. Half the individuals were younger than 34.

At 24 hours, the 288 patients who took the medication fared about the very same as the 277 who didn’t. But at 48 hours, much more than 1-third of those who took the drug — 102 — had recovered.


The study authors known as this a “significant difference.”

According to Centor, U.S. physicians never frequently prescribe steroids for sore throats, though some emergency rooms and urgent care centers seem to do so. “It really is not normal remedy or in any guideline, but these folks say, ‘Well we can make them really feel much better. How could a couple days of steroids even hurt?’ “

But there’s a risk that the drugs could hide symptoms that one thing severe is going on, Centor mentioned.

Side effects from steroids are also achievable but uncommon, according to Dr. Jeffrey Linder of Northwestern University College of Medicine in Chicago. “They incorporate increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, fluid retention,” he mentioned.

“They could be considerable for people at risk for diabetes complications and at threat for cardiovascular disease,” mentioned Linder, chief of the division of basic internal medicine and geriatrics.

Linder, who wasn’t involved in the research, noted that only about 1-third of the steroid takers in the study actually got greater inside two days.

“This is a nicely-completed study and once again, it is damaging. I don’t feel sufferers go to the doctor expecting to get a treatment that is only going to give them a 1 in 3 chance of complete resolution of their symptoms within two days,” he stated.

So what should patients with a sore throat do?

Centor advised taking a painkiller such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) if “you have sufficient discomfort that you feel like you do not want to put up with it.”

Sore throats ought to boost within 3 to 5 days, he mentioned, and they need to not get worse. Contact your medical doctor, he added, if you have a significant fever, not considerably of a cough and difficulty swallowing, considering that that may well be a sign of a bacterial infection.

You must also be concerned if your neck swells or you create a chill so sturdy that it makes your teeth chatter, accompanied by a drenching sweat. “This is a hallmark that it really is no longer sore throat and is one thing much a lot more severe,” Centor stated.

The study results have been published April 18 in the Journal of the American Healthcare Association.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Robert Centor, M.D., professor, general internal medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham Jeffrey Linder, M.D., MPH, chief, Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, and professor, medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago April 18, 2017, Journal of the American Health-related Association

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