Question: I recently had surgery to remove my tumor. I’m still weaning off steroids, I feel horrible, and now this virus has upended life even more. I struggle, and worry when I read conflicting articles about things like anti-inflammatory medications making the virus worse. I worry that I’m more susceptible to infection. Is there anything I can do to protect my health and feel confident that my vulnerable state is not exposing me to a higher risk?
Answer 1: Checking with the local docs is the most appropriate thing to do, but in general, social distancing and protection from anybody who has any illness are essential for this period. (Dr. Constantine Stratakis, NIH)
Answer 2: Patients who are no longer hypercortisolemic and receive physiologic steroid replacement are unlikely to be at higher risk for infection. There is no credible evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs increase the risk of infection. It would be prudent for patients to check with their treating physician and ensure that the steroid dose they are receiving is not excessive. (Dr. Nicholas Tritos, Mass General)
Answer 3: It is possible that you are still somewhat immunocompromised, and so you should take all of the precautions recommended by the CDC to avoid exposure to the virus. Additionally, although it is somewhat risky to go to a doctor’s office, please get the flu and pneumonia vaccines if you have not done so already. Finally, be aware that it is “normal” at the present to be fearful, as there is much we don’t know, and the future course of this pandemic is not clear. So try to build in some things that make you happy, that improve your mental health and reduce anxiety. This might be meditation, music, good conversations, movies, books, etc. (Dr. Lynnette Nieman, NIH)