Steroid shots for upper respiratory tract infections: is faster really better?


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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Corticosteroid shots are a staple to address a multitude of medical problems, and their use is rising in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). However, in a viewpoint published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, otorhinolaryngologist Edward McCoul from the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, who is also associate editor of the journal, advises caution against the allure of instant gratification.

Despite a recent rise in popularity, corticosteroid shots effects on URTIs are largely unknown. Dr McCoul says most research has not prove they have any effect on the natural courses of acute sinusitis, pharyngitis, or the common cold. What is known is the potential for troubling adverse effects, even with short-term use, he says.

So, why are corticosteroids being used in URTIs? Mainly due to their quick action. Dr McCoul said consumers of healthcare may be allured by the prospect of a quick fix and disregard any ramifications for overall well-being; because patients/consumers leave the doctor’s office happier, it could have a pervasive effect on prescriptions.

The author says physicians must uphold the principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence. The ultimate goal is to minimise the allure of instant gratification and maximise the benefits of cost-effective treatment and long-term health, he concludes.