Steroids are taken for many reasons and have some serious side effects. However, up until recently short term steroids were felt to be pretty safe.

Short term steroids that is for under a week, are used for respiratory infections, skin allergic reactions and asthma among many other things. These steroids do work and therefore are prescribed quite often.

A recent study found some disturbing findings: Short term steroid use even for a day or two was associated with an increased risk of blood clots, blood poisoning (sepsis) and fractures. These are not minor conditions. Sure, long term usage causes multiple other problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, compromised immune system and so forth.

Easy to use dose packs such as Medrol Dose Pak make it great for busy clinicians to write prescriptions. However, the same dose would not be ideal for every patient.

One solution might be to for doctors to carefully weigh the risks of these steroids with the benefits. For example, for a sore throat the risk might not be worth the minor relief, which could be achieved through Ibuprofen and medical mouthwash rather than through steroids. On the other hand, wheezing in an asthmatic should be treated with steroids (as well as Albuterol) because the risk of respiratory failure is too great. Also providers should try to avoid premade steroid dose packs, and instead tailor the dose based on patient weight and the severity of the illness.

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