Friday 19, Jun 2009
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients who are treated with steroid hydrocortisone have high risk of adrenal suppression. According to the researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) low doses of the steroid hydrocortisone can cause slight improvement but the future complications can be greater.
Low doses of the steroid hydrocortisone can cause slight improvement in some chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) symptoms but at the risk of inducing adrenal suppression.
“The data show that about half the people on placebo and two-thirds of those taking hydrocortisone reported some improvement in well-being,” comments Stephen E. Straus, M.D., chief of the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at NIAID and senior author on the study. “The greater benefit seen in the hydrocortisone group, however, was modest, and there was clear evidence of adrenal suppression by the drug.” Twelve of 33 patients on the therapy developed laboratory evidence of adrenal insufficiency. “It was manageable and completely reversible,” says Dr. Straus, “but it’s the kind of suppression that in the context of minimal improvement afforded by the drug cannot, in our minds, justify using this treatment for CFS.
“Any time that long-term steroid therapy is considered, even at a low dose,” adds Dr. Straus, “one needs to be concerned that the treatment itself may suppress the adrenal gland’s normal production of steroids, which can lead to serious complications.
There is no specific medication for CFS but painkillers and anti-depressants can produce some relief. However, Dr. Stephen E. Straus said that the slight benefit of steroid hydrocortisone must not be the primary reason to use this drug in treating CFS because adrenal suppression may result to more serious complications. He pointed out that when the adrenal glands are suppressed, the body will not respond properly to sudden events such as accidents and heart attacks.
Posted in Steroids