Health Watch — Cold and Flu Season: Treating Pneumonia

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the cold and flu season that starts when the weather gets cooler. One common complication of the flu is pneumonia, and researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a more effective way to treat this illness.

The researchers found that a combination of steroids and antibiotics appears to help patients recover more quickly from pneumonia than antibiotics alone. Dr. Robert Hardy, an infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause the illness, while the steroids reduce the lung inflammation caused by the infection, which helps patients recover. Before this study, doctors feared that the steroids would counteract the antibiotics. The steroids used in this treatment are a kind that reduces inflammation, not the kind used to build muscles. Doctors will need to do more trials before this treatment will be commonly used in patients, but these early results are promising. 

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UT Southwestern’s clinical services in infectious diseases.


October 2008

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