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Should you take steroids for Covid-19 at home? It’s time to know the truth

Updated on:25 May 2021, 15:39pm IST
Steroids are being overused by doctors to treat covid-19, but is that doing more harm than good? Is it advised to take steroids for Covid-19, if you don’t have severe symptoms? Read on to know more.
Geetika Sachdev
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Stay away from steroids, as much as you can. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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There has been a lot of information floating around Covid-19—so much so that it is hard to separate right from wrong. Whether it is about symptoms or side-effects, it is important to be doubly sure, so that you don’t run into trouble in any way. A recent subject that has been giving both doctors and Covid-19 patients sleepless nights is the use of steroids. With a recent surge in black fungus cases, the world doesn’t want to take any chances, and that’s exactly why we are here to tell you when steroids must be introduced, as part of the Covid treatment. 

But before that, let’s give you a few examples of patients who didn’t need these steroids for Covid-19. Alina Shaikh, a 42-year-old woman, who lives in Mumbai, was prescribed several antibiotics as well as steroids, the very first day she experienced Covid-19 symptoms. Instead of her situation getting better, her fever continued for days, and her oxygen saturation levels dropped. All in all, her case worsened. 

In another case, a 20-year-old girl from Mumbai was given a heavy dosage of steroids on the fourth day of the infection. This is when she didn’t have any prominent symptoms, but a CT scan report showed a slight issue in her lungs. The steroids harmed her, and instead of getting better, she had to be hospitalised. 

This goes on to show that steroids for Covid-19 do not have to be used for all patients, and if your case is getting better by quarantining at home, then you must stay away from them at any cost. 

The curious case of steroids

Let’s get to the facts now. As per the Recovery Trial that was conducted in the United Kingdom last year, it was found that 6 mg dose of dexamethasone, if used once daily for 10 days, helped to decrease mortality, but only in those patients who were on respiratory support. So, there’s no need for this drug, if you are not on oxygen support.

Research reveals that steroids for Covid-19 are used to help with controlling inflammation, but if not used at the right time, they could instead harm the body and exacerbate side-effects. That’s because steroids are said to lower your immunity, and at the same time, also cause viral replication. It is advised to use steroids, only when oxygen saturation goes below 94%. In Maharashtra, the Covid Task Force has permitted the use of dexamethasone only if a patient’s oxygen saturation is below 94%. 

There’s a reason why viral replication can be risky, says Dr Randeep Guleria, a member of the national Covid-19 task force and director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. He explains that early use of steroids leads to “faster viral replication and severe viral pneumonia.”

Steroids can take a toll on your health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Misuse of antimicrobial drugs

According to the World Health Organisation, overuse of antimicrobial drugs is one of the biggest reasons for antimicrobial resistance. 

“For mild patients, we immediately start doxycycline, ivermectin, and paracetamol. Additionally, we also prescribe some AYUSH remedies for symptom relief. We avoid steroids before seven days of symptoms unless it is extremely necessary,” Dr. Akhtar Shaikh, general secretary of the Dharavi AYUSH Doctors Association, told the media. 

AIIMS director Guleria also spoke against CT scans, and explained that they are needed only when a patient has to get hospitalised.

”CT-SCan and biomarkers are being misused. There is no advantage in doing CT-Scan if you have mild symptoms. One CT-Scan is equivalent to 300 chest x-rays, it’s very harmful,” he adds.

The last word

In case your doctor still puts you on steroids, make sure to take a second opinion before jumping right in and using it. It’s absolutely okay not to fall prey to all the misinformation that is being propagated.

The only thing one must do, while treating Covid-19 at home, is to be in constant touch with a trusted doctor. If there are any severe symptoms, including low oxygen concentration, chest pain, and more, then it’s important to take immediate action.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.