Pneumonia patients' may now have a treatment available that helps speed recovery times and reduce the risk of complications.
A new review at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada has shown that the use of steroids may be a viable treatment option. In this study, pneumonia patients treated with corticosteroids were released from the hospital a day sooner than those not treated.
Not only did the treatments lead to shorter hospital stays, the use of steroids also reduced the need for ventilators and the risk of a disease called acute respiratory distress syndrome. It's believed this treatment could cut the death rate of pneumonia patients in half, from 9-10% to about 5-6%.
Overall, corticosteroids are a powerful drug that may prove beneficial in many cases. The anti-inflammatory properties of the steroids can combat the inflammation associated with pneumonia. They may also help with conditions like COPD and asthma.
While the findings are an important advance in the treatment of this potentially fatal illness, it should be noted that a much larger study may be necessary. The study at McMaster included 13 clinical trials of about 2,000 patients hospitalized with pneumonia. Confirming the new findings with a multi-center randomized trial will be a step toward changing the standard of care.