• AHA AWAD Medical Intensive Care Unit, Rashid Hospital, Dubai Health, Dubai UAE
  • AM ABDELBAKY Medical Intensive Care Unit, Rashid Hospital, Dubai Health, Dubai UAE
  • MI SHOAIB Medical Intensive Care Unit, Rashid Hospital, Dubai Health, Dubai UAE
  • WG ELMASRY Medical Intensive Care Unit, Rashid Hospital, Dubai Health, Dubai UAE



Adrenal Insufficiency, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Exacerbations, Corticosteroids, Immunomodulatory, Septic Shock


Corticosteroids are a class of drugs that mimic the effects of cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands. They exert a wide range of effects on the body's immune, metabolic, and inflammatory responses. In the context of critically ill patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), corticosteroids are frequently utilised due to their potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties. In the ICU setting, corticosteroids are commonly employed to manage various conditions such as severe sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and adrenal insufficiency. Their mechanism of action involves suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibition of leukocyte migration, and stabilisation of cell membranes, among other effects. The choice of corticosteroid, dosing regimen, and duration of therapy in the ICU depends on the specific clinical condition being treated and individual patient factors. For instance, corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone are often administered to attenuate the systemic inflammatory response and improve hemodynamic stability in the management of septic shock. Dosing may vary but commonly involves an initial bolus followed by continuous infusion or intermittent dosing. In ARDS, corticosteroids may reduce lung inflammation and prevent further tissue damage. Methylprednisolone is a commonly utilised corticosteroid in this context, with dosing typically initiated at a high dose and then tapered gradually based on clinical response. For patients with exacerbations of COPD, corticosteroids help to reduce airway inflammation and improve lung function. Oral or intravenous corticosteroids such as prednisone or methylprednisolone are often prescribed for a short duration during exacerbations. In cases of adrenal insufficiency, corticosteroid replacement therapy is essential to restore physiological cortisol levels and prevent adrenal crisis. Hydrocortisone is the corticosteroid of choice in this scenario, with dosing adjusted based on the degree of adrenal dysfunction and stress level. Despite their efficacy, corticosteroids are associated with a range of potential adverse effects, including immunosuppression, hyperglycemia, fluid retention, electrolyte abnormalities, and increased risk of infection. Therefore, carefully monitoring patients receiving corticosteroid therapy in the ICU is paramount, with adjustments to minimise risks while optimising therapeutic benefits. In summary, corticosteroids play a crucial role in managing critically ill patients in the ICU, offering potent anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. However, their use requires careful consideration of the underlying condition, patient characteristics, and potential adverse effects, with dosing and duration tailored to individual needs.


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