Individuals taking class of steroid medications at high risk for COVID-19

asthma
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Individuals taking a class of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids for conditions such as asthma, allergies and arthritis on a routine basis may be unable to mount a normal stress response and are at high risk if they are infected with the virus causing COVID-19, according to a new editorial published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Glucocorticoids are a class of medications used to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions and administered by many different routes, including tablets, topical creams and inhaled medications. Patients taking these medications may be more susceptible to COVID-19 as a result of the suppressing the immune system. They may also experience more severe disease once infected because these medications suppress their own steroid response to infection. Injectable supplemental therapy in this setting can reverse the risk of potentially fatal adrenal failure and should be considered in every case.

Individuals with known primary adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison's disease, and secondary adrenal insufficiency occurring in hypopituitarism should also take extra precautions. If patients develop symptoms such as a dry continuous cough and fever, they should double their oral glucocorticoid dose immediately and continue doing so until the fever has subsided. They, too, will require injectable glucocorticoid therapy should their condition worsen.

Endocrinologists can play a key role in recognizing, managing and implementing these measures, according to the authors.

According to the World Health Organizations, there are more than 719,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 33,000 people have died from the disease as of March 31.

"In our , we have not witnessed a healthcare crisis of this magnitude and severity," the authors wrote.

Among individuals with diabetes who contract COVID-19, the severity of the illness appears to be worse than in individuals who do not have diabetes, according to the authors. Published research from the Wuhan province in China found those with diabetes and were overrepresented among severely ill patients and those who died.

Scientists have already helped to uncover how the virus responsible for COVID-19 enters cells and spreads from one individual to another. Some have already made preliminary observations regarding the virus' interactions with the endocrine system.

"Endocrine-related targets are at the forefront of discovery science as we collectively tackle this pandemic," the authors wrote.


Explore further

Follow the latest news on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

More information: Ursula B Kaiser et al. Our Response to COVID-19 as Endocrinologists and Diabetologists, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (2020). DOI: 10.1210/clinem/dgaa148
Citation: Individuals taking class of steroid medications at high risk for COVID-19 (2020, March 31) retrieved 28 May 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-03-individuals-class-steroid-medications-high.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
3 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments