Glucocorticoids for the treatment of anaphylaxis: Cochrane systematic review

Allergy. 2010 Oct;65(10):1205-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2010.02424.x. Epub 2010 Jun 18.


Background: Anaphylaxis is a serious hypersensitivity reaction that is rapid in onset and may result in death. A number of guidelines recommend glucocorticoids for the treatment of people experiencing anaphylaxis.

Objectives: We sought to assess the benefits and harms of glucocorticoid treatment during episodes of anaphylaxis.

Methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2009, Issue 3), MEDLINE (Ovid) (1966 to September 2009), EMBASE (Ovid) (1988 to September 2009), CINAHL (EBSCOhost) (to September 2009) and The Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED) (1945 to September 2009). We also searched the UK National Research Register and websites listing ongoing trials and contacted international experts in anaphylaxis in an attempt to locate unpublished material. We sought to include randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials comparing glucocorticoids with any control (either placebo, adrenaline (epinephrine), an antihistamine, or any combination of these). Two authors independently assessed articles for inclusion.

Results: None of the 2496 reports identified satisfied the inclusion criteria.

Conclusions: We conclude that there is no evidence from high-quality studies for the use of steroids in the emergency management of anaphylaxis. Therefore, we can neither support nor refute the use of these drugs for this purpose.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / complications
  • Anaphylaxis / drug therapy*
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • United Kingdom
  • United States


  • Glucocorticoids