Study says inhalers ok to use amid COVID-19 concerns

July 09, 2020

The benefits of using inhalers and nebulisers containing steroids outweigh the risks despite warnings to the contrary during the COVID-19 pandemic, a study by University of Huddersfield researchers has found.

A warning issued by WHO in March advised that steroids used in inhalers and nebulisers could have a negative effect on a user's immunity system, leaving them more susceptible to COVID-19. The concern was that regular steroid use could leave users vulnerable to contracting the virus, or developing a more severe version than non-users.

WHO's cautionary note caused worry for people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), leaving them unsure about whether they could keep using inhalers and nebulisers or not. The British Thoracic Society had reported that demand for inhalers had jumped by 400%, leading to shortages in the UK, following WHO's announcement.

However, Dr Hamid Merchant and Dr Syed Shahzad Hasan from the University of Huddersfield commissioned research into the use of steroids and risk of infections, especially viral infections of the upper respiratory tract. That included previous outbreaks of SARS, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It confused a lot of people," says Dr Hasan. "After the WHO advice, people thought that continuous use of steroids would leave them at a greater risk of contracting the virus or developing more than a mild version of CoViD-19."

Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and oral corticosteroids (OCS) are prescribed to help asthma sufferers and those with COPD, with inhalers used to prevent attacks.

The study has been published in Respiratory Medicine, having assessed evidence and findings from a range of bodies including the British Thoracic Society and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The other authors in the study included Toby Capstick (a consultant pharmacist on respiratory medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust), Syed Tabish Zaidi (Associate Professor in Pharmacy at the University of Leeds) and Chia Siang Kow (a clinical pharmacist from Malaysia).

"We found there is strong evidence that the benefits of continuing with steroids outweighs the risk," declares Dr Merchant.

"There is a risk that the immune system goes down, and there is a chance of acquiring infections but the benefits of continuing with steroids throughout were higher than the risks. We concluded by saying that the patients should continue their regular medicines including steroids."
-end-


University of Huddersfield

Related Asthma Articles from Brightsurf:

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Researchers make asthma breakthrough
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough that may eventually lead to improved therapeutic options for people living with asthma.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

New knowledge on the development of asthma
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways.

Eating fish may help prevent asthma
A scientist from James Cook University in Australia says an innovative study has revealed new evidence that eating fish can help prevent asthma.

Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.

Asthma Controller Step Down Yardstick -- treatment guidance for when asthma improves
The focus for asthma treatment is often stepping up treatment, but clinicians need to know how to step down therapy when symptoms improve.

Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.

Asthma linked to infertility but not among women taking regular asthma preventers
Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?
A team of experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston examined the current information available from many different sources on diagnosing and managing mild to moderate asthma in adults and summarized them.

Read More: Asthma News and Asthma Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.