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Your Healthy Family: Steroid emerging as treatment for severe COVID-19 patients

Posted at 10:09 AM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 12:09:37-04

This week that treatment is evolving for the sickest COVID-19 patients That uses a steroid called dexamethasone.

Dr. Sarah Boyd is an infectious disease physician who says, "We use it sometimes in patients who are in the hospital with asthma or COPD outbreaks where we need to really calm down that inflammation in the airwaves. So yes, it's (dexamethasone) readily available and it's been around a long time."

Doctors say dexamethasone could help suppress what experts call a cytokine storm, which is when the immune system works too hard against a virus.

Dr. Gary Salzman specializes in respiratory and critical care medicine. "We didn't know whether these corticosteroids would do more harm than good because it would prevent the body's response to the virus. Now we're thinking maybe the problem is that there's too much of an immune response. These medications will suppress that immune response."

This steroid that has been around for a long time is now emerging as a possible treatment for those with severe cases of COVID-19 amid the ongoing challenge for physicians all over the world to adapt treatments for those patients.

Dr. Salzman says It's a challenge that doctors have faced before with other diseases. "I was around when we first had HIV. That was a learning experience for us all."

This global pandemic has the scientific and medical communities learning on the fly, and learning as fast as they can, says Dr. Boyd. "We've only been dealing with this since January 2020, so the rapid progress is really unprecedented."