Steroid given to President Trump for COVID-19 treatment prompts concern in medical community

Earlier this week, President Trump returned to the White House after a three-day stay at Walter Reed Medical Center following his COVID-19 diagnosis, prompting concerns from many in the medical community.

Among the questions being raised: Could the steroid medication he's been given account for his sense of well-being? And what are the potential side effects associated with it?

A day after he was discharged from the hospital, the president tweeted that he was "FEELING GREAT!"

Among an extensive cocktail of medications he was administered, the president received a powerful steroid called Dexamethasone which can give you a heightened sense of well-being.

Emergency Medicine physician Dr. Michael Daignault says dexamethasone can make you more sensitive to the actions of adrenaline.

"You're going to feel a little more inspired. A little more robust than you potentially actually are," he said. "If you have those steroids, the adrenaline becomes more up-regulated."

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In very rare cases, it can bring on depression and psychosis.

Early on in the pandemic, doctors learned the inexpensive anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce the runaway inflammation that eventually leads to death.

"Dexamethasone is a great drug but you really have to time it appropriately," Daignault said.

Studies suggest it should only be administered when your body's natural defenses start to get overcome.

"That's when we give the dexamethasone, to help your immune system. To give it a little bit of a boost, to rev it back up. If you give it too early on, you're going to blunt your own immune system's response to the virus and that's potentially dangerous," he said.

The guidance for dexamethasone is very specific.

"It's a 10-day course or less, if you're being discharged from the hospital," Daignault said.

The steroid is reserved for hospitalized patients with lung inflammation and need oxygen assistance. Daignault says the president's doctors must have had strong reason to justify the use of such a powerful medication.
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