Glucocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones used to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions and used by many different routes, including tablets, topical creams, and inhaled medications.
In a recent study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and elsewhere, researchers found that people taking glucocorticoids for conditions such as asthma, allergies, and arthritis may be unable to mount a normal stress response and are at high risk of COVID-19.
Patients taking these drugs may be more susceptible to COVID-19 as a result of the medication suppressing the immune system.
They may also experience more severe disease once infected because these medications suppress their own steroid response to infection.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. One author is Paul M Stewart.
The team says injectable supplemental glucocorticoid 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 team.
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.
Published research from the Wuhan province in China found those with diabetes and high blood pressure were overrepresented among severely ill patients and those who died.
Scientists have already uncovered how the virus responsible for COVID-19 enters cells and spreads from one individual to another.
Some have already made observations regarding the virus’s interactions with the endocrine system.
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