Corticosteroids for pharyngitis

January 01, 0001

Corticosteroids for pharyngitis

This review by German researcher examined the evidence regarding the efficacy steroids for pain reduction in acute pharyngitis. They sought randomized controlled trials using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1966-2008).

They found: “Our review found 8 relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with a total of 806 patients. There were 5 RCTs with adult patients and 3 with children. All RCTs found a statistically significant faster reduction of pain or complete pain relief from steroid use compared with placebo. The trials used different steroids (dexamethasone, betamethasone, prednisone), and most participants had received antibiotics at least initially. Analgesic medication, such as acetaminophen, was allowed in all studies, but this factor was not always controlled. No serious adverse side effects were reported.”

The authors concluded: “Steroids are effective in relieving pain in acute pharyngitis. Although no serious adverse effects were observed, the benefits have to be balanced with possible adverse drug effects. There are safe and effective over-the-counter medications to relieve throat pain. Most patients received concomitant antibiotics; however, reducing the prescription of antibiotics for generally benign upper respiratory tract infection is a public health goal. We therefore recommend further studies to establish both the safety of steroids without antibiotic coverage and the additional benefits of steroids when used with regular administration of over-the-counter analgesic medications.”

This systematic reviews shows an analgesic benefit to steroid use in acute pharyngitis which would likely be of importance to patients, although more study is needed to clearly delineate its role.

For the full abstract, click here.

Annals of Family Medicine 8(1):58-63, January 2010. © 2010 to the Annals of Family Medicine, Inc.
Steroids as Adjuvant Therapy for Acute Pharyngitis in Ambulatory Patients-A Systematic Review. Katrin Korb, Martin Scherer, and Jean-François Chenot. Correspondence to Jean-François Chenot: [email protected]

Category: R. Respiratory. Keywords: pharyngitis, sore throat, steroids, adjuvant therapy, pain, systematic review
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 21 January 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.