Many patients I have seen in consultation have received a course of steroids at some time or other during the course of their illness, and nearly all have had no significant effect. But little concerning this subject has appeared in the medical literature.
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One interesting role for steroids is to examine the possibility of another illness. Several autoimmune diseases can closely resemble CFIDS, illnesses that frequently respond to steroid treatment. A rare patient with early dermatomyositis will not have marked weakness or elevated sedimentation rate, and muscle biopsy is necessary to make the diagnosis. In that patient, a trial with steroids will show remarkable improvement. However, if the retroviral hypothesis of the cause of CFIDS turns out to be correct, steroid treatment has important theoretical drawbacks, as steroids may permit viral growth.
(Source: The Doctor’s Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, by David S. Bell, M.D.)