fbpx Skip nav to main content.
Home > Dr. Megan’s Blog > Prednisone 💊 & Coronavirus Rumors: Should I Stop Taking It Now?

Prednisone 💊 & Coronavirus Rumors: Should I Stop Taking It Now?

Prednisone 💊 & Coronavirus Rumors: Should I Stop Taking It Now?

During this time of uncertainty, people are feeling so many conflicting things. They’re hearing rumors, and they don’t know who to believe. Find out the facts about Prednisone and Coronavirus Rumors by reading this article.

I’m Dr. Megan, the Prednisone Pharmacist. And I’m here to share with you facts based on what is currently known and published by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States Government. Watch my third video in the series about prednisone and infections.

Prednisone and Coronavirus

People are wondering, should I be taking prednisone, or should I be stopping? What should I do when it’s anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant? What do I do?  This is based on the CDC and WHO, and as a pharmacist, I follow the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. They created a table of evidence, and that’s where this information came from. They evaluated the best information available today, which is March 23rd, 2020. Finally, the Chinese Thoracic Society published information based on what they found in people who lived and survived in China.

Prednisone is a Miracle

It is a drug that saves lives every day, and I’m so grateful that it was invented. It saved my life and many other people’s. For this current situation, prednisone works as an anti-inflammatory and might be so beneficial for people. Since it prevents this extended or inflammatory cytokine response that can be a complication of the COVID-19 infection, it may accelerate the resolution of the full inflammation of the lung and the body when it goes to pneumonia.

There’s a complication of  Coronavirus which is sepsis, the full-body inflammation, and prednisone might improve the immune system dysregulation. Basically, it might help the immune system to stay in the proper balance instead of getting completely dysregulated. And then when people have sepsis and are nearing death, their blood pressure can get really low, and so prednisone helps increase blood pressure. That’s usually a side effect, right? Hypertension, but in this case, it can be a benefit. This can also save people’s lives who have sepsis since it shows to be a very small reduction in mortality.

The Risks of Prednisone with COVID

Now here are the risks. This is the big but… For SARS and MERS, those are other coronaviruses in the past and other acute respiratory distress syndromes where the lungs are failing and it’s really bad, prednisone or other steroids have been used, in those situations, and there is no survival benefit. That means that there’s no reason to take a steroid for the infection alone. That has nothing to do with whether you’re already taking prednisone or another steroid. It’s only for the doctor in the emergency room or the ICU and they’re wondering, “Should I give this patient a steroid?” And the answer is if all they have is a respiratory problem that started with an infection, then no. They should not give it.

But if they have sepsis, maybe. For both situations, there is delayed viral clearance, and that can be a huge problem because the virus takes longer to get out of the body and can be getting other people infected. So are those risks really worth it? Are the benefits better than those risks?

Using Steroids for COVID

Because there’s such a question about what to do, the WHO and CDC came up with these basic principles that should be followed if a doctor is prescribing a steroid for this current situation. First, the benefits and risks. You’re going to hear me say that over and over again that it should be carefully weighed before using steroids and should be used prudently. Be really careful prescribing it if somebody has pneumonia. For people who have underlying diseases, or who regularly use steroids for chronic diseases, further use of steroids like prednisone should be cautious. So they’re saying, you can continue using it, but you need to be so careful weighing those benefits and risks.

And finally, the dose should below. So the principle summed up is, use the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time possible that keeps somebody safe, and the benefits outweigh the risks. And the official recommendation of the WHO and CDC is that corticosteroids, like prednisone, not be used routinely in patients with COVID-19 or Coronavirus for treatment of viral pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome unless indicated for another reason. So for everybody watching this who has asthma or COPD, then the doctor says you continue using it. If the doctor is prescribing it for sepsis, then it’s potential to use it but not for pneumonia itself.

The Rumors

All right. Other rumors that have been going around. I want to dispel some rumors now.

1. Blood Pressure Medicines

Somebody said that a doctor said that there are some blood pressure medicines that might not be safe in people who are taking them and is prone to getting the virus. And it was just a hypothesis that somebody had, and there’s no evidence to support it, and all of the doctors who are the heart doctors across the world say,

“You should continue taking your blood pressure medicines” like ACE inhibitors like lisinopril, and that is because people are at the highest risk for serious infection if they have cardiovascular disease or lung disease. So you want to do whatever you can to keep your heart and your lungs as strong as possible, and that means continuing to take your blood pressure medicines.

2. Ibuprofen

Here’s another rumor. Somebody thought, for a very similar reason as a previous rumor, that ibuprofen might not be the safest choice over Tylenol, and they attributed it to somebody in the World Health Organization. But there’s no evidence that that’s true, and so they say,

“There’s no compelling evidence to support an association between ibuprofen and negative outcomes in patients with COVID-19.”

So if you are feeling achy and miserable and your fever is hot and you feel terrible, there’s no reason to take Tylenol over Advil. They can both help with that fever. And unless your doctor says otherwise for you specifically, there’s no evidence to take one over the other. You don’t need to be hoarding Tylenol and avoiding Advil; they’re both helpful when there’s a fever.

Risk-Benefit Analysis

So that brings me to the underlying theme of this presentation, that the principles of when to use medicine is when the benefits outweigh the risks. So in this first situation, you can see the scale is heavy on the risks. That is like using prednisone solely, for the only reason is, if somebody has pneumonia and coronavirus, the benefits do not outweigh the risks, people die because of that. And that’s a situation when there’s no reason to take that drug, there’s no reason for the doctor to prescribe it unless there are other things we don’t know. Maybe your doctor has other reasons that perhaps you don’t know. So it’s important to find out whether the risks or the benefits, which one’s stronger.

In this situation, when the risks are greater than the benefits, that’s when you stop taking a drug. So if you are having so many side effects from prescription drugs, and there’s just not a lot of benefits.

Risk-Benefit Analysis Example

Like for example, this lady called me and she said,

” Hey, I’ve been prescribed prednisone, and it’s for this pain I have in my throat, and they said I could use ibuprofen instead, but they gave me prednisone because it’s stronger. Should I use it?”

And I said, “Well, how bad is it?”

She said, “It’s not that bad.”

And I said, “Well, are you comfortable running the risk for permanent side effects?”

And she’s like, “No.”

I said, “Well, why don’t you just try a simpler treatment first?” so she tried just ibuprofen alone instead of the prednisone, and it was enough.

Educate Yourself First

And so you always want to figure out, what are the benefits? Are they big enough? Because if you are taking prednisone for multiple sclerosis exacerbation, it’s so bad you’re going blind in your eye, and not going blind in your eye is the benefit, and then we all know the tons of side effects of prednisone. I personally think that going blind is a lot worse than the side effects. So in that case, definitely take that medicine. If you’re taking prednisone for a transplant and it’s keeping you functioning because you have a liver, or a kidney, or a heart, or a lung that’s still working, and you’re staying out of the hospital, then yes, those benefits are amazing. It’s a miracle: continue taking it.

There are so many risks and so many benefits, but you need to know what they are. You need to educate yourself to find out what the risks are and what the benefits are. Like knowing the difference of Side Effects of Prednisone and Coronavirus and that brings me to the ultimate question, “should I stop taking it now?” and that’s a question you can only answer between you and your doctor with all of the information. You should never stop taking a drug without all of the information, and if you don’t feel like you have the information, call your doctor, or call your pharmacist and find out, what are the real benefits of this drug? Because I can tell how it’s making me feel. I know what the risks are, at least as far as it’s currently making me feel, but find out, get all the information so you can make a wise choice.

Get the Solution!

And that’s why I created the Nutranize® Zone™ dietary supplement, especially for people on prednisone, because it gives back the nutrients that prednisone depletes. Nutrient depletion is a huge risk, prednisone stealing calcium. When that happens, that leads to glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Nobody wants osteoporosis. Predisone’s stealing chromium. When chromium’s low, that leads to blood sugar regulation, which leads to diabetes. Nobody wants to gain weight and have diabetes.

And so when you give back the nutrients that prednisone steals, you are putting this balance in your favor. And so that can help you decide whether the balance benefits greater than risks. You can find it at Nutranize.com.

I don’t know if you’ve seen pharmacy shelves right now, but they’ve been completely wiped out of zinc and vitamin C. With Nutranize Zone, you can get your 100% daily value of zinc and vitamin C using the supplement that is formulated to reduce your suffering by replenishing your body and so you can recover from prednisone.

Read more about Prednisone and Coronavirus:

Dr. Megan Milne, PharmD, BCACP

Dr. Megan Milne, PharmD, BCACP, is an award-winning clinical pharmacist board certified in the types of conditions people take prednisone for. Dr. Megan had to take prednisone herself for an autoimmune condition so understands what it feels like to suffer prednisone side effects and made it her mission to counteract them as the Prednisone Pharmacist.

Related Posts