Corticosteroid use in Covid 19 illness: A word of Caution

Dr. Ravi Sankar Erukulapati

“DEXAMETHASONE, a lifesaving drug for the severely ill COVID cases” has been the news all over media and social media recently. There no doubt that it is great news that a low-cost medicine can help moderate to serious cases of COVID. But Dexamethasone or any Corticosteroid has no proven role what-so-ever in mild, asymptomatic or doubtful COVID cases or in the prevention of COVID illness as on today.

DEXAMETHASONE belongs to a group of medication called Corticosteroids (which are Hormones) and is commonly used for various medical ailments such as asthma, allergies, skin problems, certain arthritis and many other inflammatory conditions. They are also used to treat corticosteroid deficiency and in some cases of sepsis.

It is important to remember that whilst corticosteroids can be lifesaving and can aid in the treatment of many ailments when used by qualified doctors, they can cause very serious side effects and have to be used strictly under medical supervision only.

Corticosteroids have been abused by quacks over the decades and this is a well-known fact. Side effects of Dexamethasone and other Corticosteroids such are Prednisolone and Methylprednisolone are weight gain, water retention, easy bruising, elevated blood glucose, delayed healing of wounds and increased risk of various infections, high blood pressure, thinning of bones and fractures, muscle weakness, glaucoma, cataracts, stomach ulcers, mood swings and psychosis, steroid dependence, and sometimes even death if abruptly stopped after prolonged unsupervised usage.

Hence, it is important to refrain from self-medication with Dexamethasone or any corticosteroid!

Dr Ravi Sankar Erukulapati

Senior Endocrinologist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills.