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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Inhaled steroids don't cause pneumonia

Aha! Another fallacy debunked. Well, surely we are aware that this is one study, but the results of a recent study confirm that inhaled corticosteroids like Flovent or Pulmocort, or combination inhalers like Advair and Symbicort, do not cause pneumonia.

Yet, it is true that pneumonia is common among COPD patients, however the reason is not because these individuals are taking steroids. And sure steroids can knock down the immune system in your mouth slightly, thus causing thrush. Yet this minor side effect can be almost completely "washed" away simply by rinsing after each use.

Advair is said, according to most studies, to not cause any systemic side effects -- so long as you (ahem) rinse after each use. Thus, what causes pneumonia is not the inhaled steroids, but something else. Perhaps it's the fact that many COPDers have excessive phlegm trapped within their lungs, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria. This, I would suspect, causes most cases of pneumonia in COPDers.

The fact they are taking an inhaled steroids to reduce inflammation and prevent bronchospasm is not what is causing pneumonia. In fact, there have been many COPD patients over the years who were not on inhaled steroids, and they were equally likely to have pneumonia.

So, fallacy debunked? Perhaps. While we have common sense enough to know this is just one study, we also have common sense enough to not believe every little rumour about a new medicine that comes around.

The truth is, there are many people who don't take medicine their doctor prescribes to treat their lung diseases out of fear of side effects from the medicine. As an asthmatic and a person who's used inhaled corticosteroids for over 30 years to treat severe asthma, I can honestly state that the risks of not taking your COPD/asthma medicine are far worse than the risks of the medicine itself.

In fact, I think we ought to make this RT Cave #38:

RT Cave Rule #38: The risk of not taking asthma and COPD medicine is far worse than the risks of the medicine taken to treat these diseases.

1 comment:

blainefan said...

If you believe this article I have some oceanfront property in Utah I can sell you cheap.