A new study has found that using systemic glucocorticoids – a type of steroids – increases the risk of severe staph infections, which can be life-threatening. Lead author Dr. Jesper Smit said the findings are “a reminder for clinicians to weigh carefully the elevated risk against the potential beneficial effect of glucocorticoid therapy. This is especially pertinent in patients who are already vulnerable to infection.”
Glucocorticoids are powerful immunosuppresants used to treat a variety of medical conditions that involve inflammation. The drugs can either be administered orally or through injections to help suppress the immune system.
When taken by healthy individuals, these medications do not cause complications, but their long-term use can increase the risk of infection and other complications.
The researchers reviewed medical records of nearly 30,000 people in Denmark. The researchers found that patients taking systemic glucocorticoids were 2.5 times more likely to develop a staph infection outside of hospital settings, compared to those who did not use the medication.
The risk of severe infection was found to rise with the increase of dosage.
The researchers suggest weighing out the possible risks when prescribing such medications.
Although for some patients, systemic glucocorticoid treatment can pose a risk, for others it can be life-saving, as they may require to stay on a small dosage chronically.
The findings were published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article: Lupus risk associated with chronic exposure to staph (staphylococcus aureus) bacteria.