To use or not to use corticosteroids for pneumonia? A clinician’s perspective

Submitted: December 3, 2015
Accepted: December 3, 2015
Published: December 3, 2015
Abstract Views: 1917
PDF: 1230
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The use of corticosteroids in the management of pneumonia is still a controversial issue. The physicians in daily clinical practice often use corticosteroids in patients with pneumonia for different reasons all over the world. As an example of real life is the frequent use of corticosteroids to treat patients with pneumonia due to H1N1 pandemic influenza in spite of WHO’ statements that clearly discouraged this therapy. In fact, the literature up to august 2012 reported a total of 6,650 patients with pneumonia due to H1N1 virus infection (of whom 2,515 were ICU patients): corticosteroids were used with various dose regimen in 2404 patients (37.8%). The attitude of international guidelines on pneumonia in using steroids do not help the clinician to clearly choice when and how to treat pneumonia with steroids. However, stress doses of corticosteroids are suggested by some major guidelines on community-acquired pneumonia in case of severe episodes with sepsis. To date, there are 10 randomised controlled trials assessing the effectiveness of corticosteroids for community-acquired pneumonia globally involving 1090 participants . Most of the trials adopted stress doses of glucorticoids for 4-7 days. The evidence from these trials taken separately is weak due to limitations of the studies themselves, but a Cochrane review and a systematic review found benefit using prolonged low doses of glucocorticoids in severe community-acquired pneumonia. Moreover, such a strategy decreases vasopressor dependency and appears to be safe. Nevertheless, larger trials with more patients and clinically important end-points were claimed to provide robust evidence. Finally, infection surveillance is critical in patients treated with corticosteroids, and to prevent the rebound phenomenon, the drug should be weaned slowly.



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How to Cite

Confalonieri, M., M. Kodric, M. Santagiuliana, C. Longo, M. Biolo, R. Cifaldi, C. Torregiani, and M. Jevnikar. 2015. “To Use or Not to Use Corticosteroids for Pneumonia? A clinician’s Perspective”. Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease 77 (2).