Steroids Up Infection Risk for RA Patients
If you’re over 65 and you have rheumatoid arthritis, then taking oral glucocorticoids – prednisolone, for example – heightens your chances of getting an infection serious enough to land you in the hospital. A study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseasesconcluded that current and recent doses have the greatest impact on infection risk but that the cumulative impact of doses taken in the last two to three years still affects risk.
Lead author Wllima Dixon of the Arthiritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit and colleagues wrote, "A current user of 5mg prednisolone had a 30%, 46% or 100% increased risk of serious infection when used continuously for the last 3 months, 6 months or 3 years, respectively, compared to a non-user. The risk associated with 5mg prednisolone taken for the last 3 years was similar to that associated with 30mg taken for the last month. Discontinuing a two-year course of 10mg prednisolone six months ago halved the risk compared to ongoing use."
Given that information, you'd probably be wise to consult your doctor about alternatives to glucocorticoids (a term derived from glucose + cortex + steroid) for your rheumatoid arthritis if you're at or near age 65.