Looking Into President Trump's Steroid Treatment, Explained by Local Doctor

Sunday, President Donald Trump's doctors added a steroid treatment to the two drugs already being administered -- Remdesivir and a drug cocktail.

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Adding the steroid dexamethasone to the president's treatment is a red flag for some, while others say it’s a common route doctors take.

NBC 7 spoke to a local doctor who offered some perspective on the president's overall combination of drugs.

With news that President Donald Trump's oxygen levels dipped too low, there was worry that an addition of a steroid to his treatment signaled something more severe.

Dr. Paul Schalch-Lepe, a San Diego-based Otolaryngologist, specializes in airway obstruction and sleep apnea.

"They felt controlling the inflammation was going to be helpful in the president's current status,” Schalch-Lepe said.

He told NBC 7 that steroids are a very common treatment for inflammation, which is the body's reaction to trauma or infection.

"Different patients at different stages of the inflammation or the infection can receive steroids, so I wouldn't read that much into it," said Schalch-Lepe.

But it’s also so far proven to improve critical COVIDE-19 patients.

 "In the setting of COVID-19, infection sets in and the damage to the lungs start to occur," the doctor explained. "The body reacts with this very aggressive response."

That aggressive response to contain the damage can create problems in itself. And in President Trump's case, Schalch- Lepe said it may have caused inflammation of the lungs, affecting his oxygen levels.

Steroids were likely beneficial at this point.

 "Allow for the lungs to continue exchanging oxygen and taking care of the oxygen levels,” said Schalch-Lepe.

So it has been added to work in unison with the other two drugs the president has been receiving -- Remdesivir and an experimental drug cocktail.

"Treatment is there and seems to be working, hopefully, but it’s not accessible to everybody, hence the importance we take this pandemic seriously and continue exercising all precautions and all preventative strategies," Schalch-Lepe concluded.

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