This effective COVID-19 drug can cause diabetes-like symptoms

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In a new study from Imperial College Healthcare, researchers found the use of the steroid, dexamethasone, has been confirmed as a reliable and effective treatment for COVID-19, even in patients with diabetes.

By the second wave of the pandemic, dexamethasone was routinely being used to treat hospitalized patients following data suggesting that it was reducing ICU admissions and deaths.

However, the use of a steroid, such as dexamethasone, is known to increase blood sugar levels, a serious health risk for patients with diabetes.

In the study, the team assessed the benefits of dexamethasone with a focus on outcomes for patients with diabetes, as well as any other complications arising from raised blood sugar.

The team compared outcomes for over 800 patients in wave 1 (no dexamethasone) with over 1,300 patients in wave 2 (routine dexamethasone).

They found dexamethasone significantly reduced the risk of ICU admission and death by 56%, although in patients with diabetes, it was linked to the need for extra medications to maintain blood sugar levels and, in a small minority, serious diabetic complications.

However, the independent benefit of dexamethasone in reducing death from COVID was not lessened in patients with diabetes.

This study showed that despite blood glucose control complications, dexamethasone remains a cheap, life-saving and effective treatment for COVID-19, provided patients are monitored for any related complications.

The team says they now feel confident using dexamethasone for patients with diabetes in the future, just with the caveat that it may result in a short-term worsening of their condition.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about scientists develop a new inhaled COVID-19 vaccine and findings of a potential cause of COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’.

For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about COVID-19 vaccine booster dose can reduce infection in those 60 and older and results showing that this study shows cause of blood clots in severe COVID-19.

The study was presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference. One author of the study is Dr. Victoria Salem.

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