Study Confirms Steroid Efficacy for Sore Throat Pain

But authors warn that benefits must be weighed against risk of possible rare side effects

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Steroids are an effective adjuvant treatment for relieving sore throat pain, according to a study in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Katrin Korb, M.D., of the University of Goettingen in Germany, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of eight randomized controlled trials -- five with adults and three with children -- comprising 806 patients.

According to the researchers, all eight trials found that steroids such as dexamethasone, betamethasone, and prednisone were associated with significantly faster pain reduction or complete pain relief compared to placebo, and were not associated with any serious side effects.

"Although no serious adverse effects were observed, the benefits must be weighed against possible rare adverse drug effects and further medicalization of a condition for which most people do not seek medical attention," the authors conclude. "There are safe and effective over-the-counter medications to relieve throat pain. All patients received concomitant antibiotics; however, reducing prescription of antibiotics for frequently benign upper respiratory tract infections is a public health goal. We therefore recommend further studies to establish the safety of steroid use without antibiotic coverage and the added benefits of steroids when used with regular administration of over-the-counter analgesic medications."

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