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The treatment of adrenal insufficiency with hydrocortisone granules in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) was associated with an absence of adrenal crises and normal growth patterns over a 2-year period, according to study findings published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The study included a total of 17 children with CAH and 1 child with hypopituitarism. All included participants were <6 years old who were receiving current adrenocortical replacement therapy, including hydrocortisone with or without fludrocortisone. Hydrocortisone medications used in this population were converted from pharmacy compounded capsules to hydrocortisone granules without changing the dose. These study participants were followed by study investigators for 2 years. Glucocorticoid replacement therapy was given three times a day for a median treatment duration of 795 days. Treatment was adjusted by 3 monthly 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) profiles in children with CAH. There were a 150 follow-up visits throughout the study. At each visit, participants underwent assessments that measured hydrocortisone dose, height, weight, pubertal status, adverse events, and incidence of adrenal crisis. A total of 40 follow-up visits had changes in hydrocortisone doses based on salivary measurements (n=32) and serum 17-OHP levels (n=8). At time of study entry, the median daily doses of hydrocortisone were 11.9 mg/m2 for children between the ages of 2 to 8 years, 9.9 mg/m2 for children between 1 month and 2 years, and 12.0 mg/m2 for children <28 days of age. At the end of the study, the respective doses for the 3 age groups were 10.2, 9.8, and 8.6. The investigators observed no trends in either accelerated growth or reduced growth; however, 1 patient with congenital renal hypoplasia and CAH did show reduced growth. While 193 treatment-emergent adverse events, including pyrexia, gastroenteritis, and viral upper respiratory tract infection, were reported in 14 patients, there were no observed adrenal crises. Limitations of this study included the small sample size as well as the relatively high drop-out rate of the initial sample. The researchers concluded that “hydrocortisone granules are an effective treatment for childhood adrenal insufficiency providing the ability to accurately prescribe pediatric appropriate doses.” Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. Reference Neumann U, Braune K, Whitaker MJ, et al. A prospective study of children 0-7 years with CAH and adrenal insufficiency treated with hydrocortisone granules. Published online September 4, 2020. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgaa626
Endocrinologists have underlined the importance that physicians consider "a stress dose" of glucocorticoids in the event of severe COVID-19 infection in endocrine, and other, patients on long-term steroids. People taking corticosteroids on a routine basis for a variety of underlying inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, allergies, and arthritis, are at elevated risk of being infected with, and adversely affected by, COVID-19. This also applies to a rarer group of patients with adrenal insufficiency and uncontrolled Cushing syndrome, as well as secondary adrenal insufficiency occurring in hypopituitarism, who also rely on glucocorticoids for day-to-day living. In the event of COVID-19, all of these individuals may be unable to mount a normal stress response, and "in the case of adrenal suppression...such patients may run into severe difficulties, particularly if on intensive care units," warns Paul Stewart, MD, University of Leeds, UK, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). As such, it is vitally important to recognize that "Injectable supplemental glucocorticoid therapy in this setting can reverse the risk of potentially fatal adrenal failure and should be considered in every case," Stewart and colleagues emphasize in a newly published editorial in JCEM. They note this advice must be considered alongside World Health Organization (WHO) guidance against prescribing therapeutic glucocorticoids to treat complications of COVID-19, based on prior experience in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as those affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The key difference here is not to use pharmacologic doses of glucocorticoids as treatment for COVID-19 (where they have no effect), but rather to prevent death from adrenal failure by using "stress" doses of replacement glucocorticoid, Stewart explained to Medscape Medical News. "No patient with a history of prior exposure to chronic glucocorticoid therapy (> 3 months)...should die without consideration" for a stress dose of replacement glucocorticoid therapy. "The intent here is to ensure that no patient with a history of prior exposure to chronic glucocorticoid therapy (> 3 months) by whatever route should die without consideration for parenteral glucocorticoid therapy," the editorialists write. He advises using physiological stress doses of hydrocortisone (50-100 mg intravenously tid). Specific Advice for Adrenal Insufficiency: Follow Sick Day Rules A separate statement by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) also emphasizes that it is particularly important for patients with adrenal insufficiency to follow advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or similar guidance on preventing COVID-19 infection, including social distancing and frequent hand washing. Such patients should continue to take medications as prescribed and ensure they have appropriate supplies of oral and injectable steroids, ideally for 90 days, AACE advises. And if there is a shortage of hydrocortisone, the statement advises patients ask a pharmacist or physician about replacement hydrocortisone with different doses that might be available. Stewart agrees that patients with adrenal insufficiency need to be hypervigilant, but says that "if they do become ill, for the most part they are well counseled to respond appropriately to intercurrent infections." Nevertheless, it is "invaluable to reiterate 'sick day rules'" for suspected COVID-19 infection. "Any patient who develops a dry continuous cough and fever should immediately double their daily oral glucocorticoid dose and continue on this regimen until the fever has subsided." If a patient still deteriorates on this regimen, develops diarrhea or vomiting, or is unable to take oral glucocorticoids for other reasons, they should contact their physicians or seek urgent medical care to receive parenteral treatment with a glucocorticoid. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Published online March 31, 2020. Position statement For more diabetes and endocrinology news, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. From https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/928072?nlid=134869_3901&src=wnl_newsalrt_200404_MSCPEDIT&uac=295048SY&impID=2335560&faf=1&fbclid=IwAR1zZe6fqDS3tKuHUYoFpbvBMkQYJ4JN59RzC93xdzVcGGkJIz5bnmmE4LY