An inhaled steroid commonly used to treat asthma can help keep patients with mild COVID-19 from getting sicker, according to results from a trial published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
Within a week of developing symptoms, 73 patients were randomly assigned to receive inhaled budesonide twice a day, and another 73 were assigned to receive only usual care. On average, patients used budesonide for 7 days.
Ultimately, 15% of patients receiving usual care needed an urgent-care visit or hospitalization, compared to only 3% of those treated with budesonide.
Patients who got budesonide also had fewer days with fever, fewer days of taking medicines to prevent fever, and recovered on average one day faster.
“To our knowledge,” the researchers said, this is the first trial of inhaled corticosteroids in early COVID-19 illness, and it “potentially provides the first easily accessible effective intervention” for patients with mild symptoms. They said larger trials to confirm their findings are urgently needed, “especially in the setting of a treatment given early that is widely available and relatively safe.”