‘No evidence’ that inhaled steroids increase risk of COVID-19

A summary of an editorial article in the European Respiratory Journal 

New research has found that there is no evidence that inhaled steroids, used to treat asthma and COPD, increase the risk of COVID-19.

Inhaled steroids reduce inflammation (swelling) in the lungs, which can cause asthma attacks or a flare-up of COPD symptoms. They also reduce the activity of the immune system, the body’s defence against infections. This has raised questions during the current COVID-19 pandemic about whether people should continue with their medication.

In this article, the authors conducted a short review of the existing evidence on asthma medication and COVID-19.

What did the study look at?

The authors searched for and reviewed any existing research papers that have been published on the topic of inhaled steroids and coronavirus. After searching through 771 publications on the topic, the authors found there are no existing studies that include evidence on the use of inhaled steroids in people with infections caused by the coronavirus. This included the COVID-19 infection and other infections caused by coronavirus: SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

What did the authors conclude?

The authors write that at this time in the  COVID-19 pandemic, there is no evidence to suggest people with asthma and COPD should stop taking their medication. They also state that if they do stop taking it, it is likely to be harmful by causing their symptoms to increase. They state that people with asthma or COPD, who are managing their symptoms effectively using inhaled steroids, should continue with their medication.  

Why is this important?

The authors found no research that showed taking asthma medication causes harm.

It may be harmful to stop taking medication, you should always follow your doctor’s advice.

The authors encourage all other COVID-19 researchers to collect information about each person’s existing conditions and current medication. This will teach us more about how people with different conditions and medications react to COVID-19.

Read the original research paper:

Title: Inhaled corticosteroids and COVID-19: a systematic review and clinical perspective