Donald Trump steroid treatment for COVID-19 increases potential risk of side effects

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Donald Trump looks out from the Truman balcony after returning to the White House

US President Donald Trump is being treated for COVID-19 with a steroid that is recommended for severe illness and carries the risk of serious side effects such as mood swings, aggression and confusion.

Trump’s medical team said Sunday the president had been started on dexamethasone, a generic steroid that has long and been widely used to reduce inflammation related to other diseases. The steroid was started after Trump experienced low oxygen levels.

White House officials painted a rosy picture of Trump’s condition, saying he could be released from hospital as early as Monday. However, dexamethasone is usually reserved for more serious cases.

A study in June that was hailed as a breakthrough showed that use of the steroid reduced the death rate in hospitalized among the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients by about a third.

Dexamethasone is used to treat immune system disorders, inflammatory diseases, breathing problems, and other conditions by decreasing the body’s natural defense response, which can overreact and cause additional problems.

The Infectious Disease Society of America says dexamethasone is beneficial for people with critical or severe COVID-19 who need supplemental oxygen. However, studies show that the drug can be harmful in people with milder COVID-19 as it can suppress their natural immune response.

In addition, according to the International Myeloma Foundation, side effects can include physical problems such as blurred vision and irregular heartbeat, as well as personality changes and difficulty thinking.

“Steroids are always very dangerous drugs,” said Edward Jones-Lopez, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles.

“That is why it (dexamethasone) is used in severe to critical patients … There can be neuropsychiatric side effects. These are drugs that we use very, very carefully.”

However, dexamethasone is a common steroid used in many patients with low oxygen levels as a result of COVID-19 and is usually harmless, said Amesh Adalja, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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