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July 4, 1959


Author Affiliations

Washington, D.C.

Professor of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1959;170(10):1179-1183. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.63010100005013

We are all familiar with the tendency of the adrenal cortical steroids to alter manifestations of a variety of clinical disorders, and, of course, these include infectious diseases. This was studied and strikingly demonstrated by Finland and co-workers 1 when the adrenal cortical steroids were given to carefully selected patients with lobar and viral pneumonias. These observations made it clear that the steroids could induce, in patients with pneumonia, striking defervescence and symptomatic relief, with a decrease or disappearance of not only the subjective signs but also the objective findings. These remarkable changes occurred despite the persistence of pneumococci in the sputum, the presence of bacteremia, and, in one instance, the spread of pneumonia to other lobes with subsequent development of empyema. The symptomatic changes apparently were independent of gross changes in the antibody response and were not accompanied by reversal of metabolic patterns consistent and characteristic of pneumonia and