While the COVID-19 spotlight is on the steroid medicine, dexamethasone, with reports indicating that it may help people with serious COVID-19 illness, health professionals warn that it’s not for everyone – it should not be taken to prevent the virus or to treat less severe cases.
“For some people, the body overreacts when fighting COVID-19, causing such strong inflammation that it damages the lungs and other organs, sometimes leading to death,” informs pharmacist and Medicines Line manager at NPS MedicineWise, Nerida Packham.
“The early findings form a recent study in the from a recent study in the UK show that dexamethasone … may help protect the organs from these extreme reactions …
“The study, however, showed no benefit (and possibly some harm) for people with less severe COVID-19 and didn’t look at whether it can be used to prevent COVID-19.”
Ms Packham adds that, like with other medications, dexamethasone comes with its own set of side effects, “so it should only be used when the potential benefits outweigh the risks”, and only under the guidance of a medical professional.
“Dexamethasone can cause changes in the immune system and in some situations increase the frequency and seriousness of infections,” she warns.
“For this reason, it should only be used exactly as prescribed.”
The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 remains regular hand washing and practice physical distancing.
To read a new consumer-friendly from NPS MedicineWise, which further explains dexamethasone, visit: nps.org.au/news/dexamethasone-and-covid-19.