Prednisone is a corticosteroid, which is prescribed for various inflammatory conditions. Read about the indications, precautions, dosage, and side effects.
Prednisone is a synthetic steroid, which is used to suppress the immune system and inflammation. It is an oral glucocorticoid medication commonly used in conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), multiple sclerosis, high blood calcium levels, and rheumatologic diseases.
It is available as an immediate-release tablet, liquid solution, and delayed-release tablet. As it is a steroid, longterm use can result in a lot of side effects. Never stop taking this drug suddenly, as it might result in withdrawal symptoms. Always tapper the drug gradually and then stop it.
To prevent stomach problems, take this medicine with food.
It can make your body retain salt or lose potassium, so changes in diet are recommended.
Prednisone can make you more susceptible to dangerous infections as it weakens your immune system.
Live vaccines are contraindicated while on Prednisone, as your immune system is weak.
It can alter some of your test results, so if you are on Prednisone, always inform your doctor.
Prednisone is used to treat various inflammatory conditions. Some of the examples are:
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
Drug hypersensitivity reactions.
Acute rheumatic carditis.
Herpes zoster ophthalmicus.
Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response. Prednisone lowers the activity of the immune system, which in turn blocks the chemicals that result in inflammation. It mimics the action of cortisol, which is naturally produced in the adrenal gland and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Prednisone is inactive in the body, so it is converted into active form prednisolone by enzymes in the liver. So, it might be not very effective in people with liver problems.
It is not safe to take Prednisone if your immune system is weak or if you are under medication for some other health condition. Inform your doctor if you have any of the following condition:
Allergy to Prednisone.
If you are taking antifungal medication for a fungal infection.
Liver condition like cirrhosis.
Eye problem like ulcers, glaucoma, or cataract.
Your doctor will adjust the dosage depending on your age, condition to be treated, its severity, and other underlying conditions. Prednisone is available in the following strengths:
Oral immediate-release tablet - 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, and 50 mg.
Oral delayed-release tablet - 1, 2, and 5 mg.
The recommended dose for adults (age 18 to 64 years) is 5 to 60 mg per day. The immediate-release tablet is also given alternate days. For children below 17 years, the dose is calculated based on age and weight.
All medicines should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Avoid taking this medicine for a long time unless prescribed by your doctor.
The liquid solution should be measured properly and then taken. Take the delayed-release tablet as a whole, and avoid breaking or crushing it.
Make sure you take this tablet with food, as it reduces the chances of stomach problems. If you experience side effects or get fever or infection, consult your doctor, as your dose might need altering.
The following are some side effects reported with the use of Prednisone:
Slow heart rate.
Thin and fragile skin.
Long-term memory loss.
Slow wound healing.
Get immediate medical help if you notice these symptoms:
Shortness of breath.
Blood in stools.
Rember to inform your doctor about all the medicines that you are taking if he or she prescribes Prednisone. As it might interact with those medicines and result in severe side effects. Other drugs that this medicine can interact with are:
Antifungal medications like Ketoconazole, Amphotericin B, and Itraconazole.
Birth control pills.
Warfarin and other anticoagulants.
Antibiotics like Clarithromycin and Telithromycin.
HIV and hepatitis C medications.
Symptoms that you might experience if you stop taking Prednisone abruptly is called Prednisone withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms include:
Loss of appetite.
As Prednisone is similar to the hormone cortisol, it takes some time for the body to get used to the decreased levels. So it is advised to gradually tapper the drug and then stop it.
These symptoms will stop once your body starts producing normal amounts of cortisol again. For more information on this drug, consult a doctor online.
Prednisone is used to treat conditions that result in inflammation due to the immune response of the body like arthritis, allergies, cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, eye inflammation, etc.
Yes, Prednisone can affect your mood and make you angry. It can result in psychological problems like anxiety, depression, mood swings, etc., which usually go away when the drug is stopped.
The half-life of Prednisone, that is the time taken by the body to eliminate 50 % of the drug from the blood, is 3 to 4 hours. And it takes around 16.5 to 22 hours for it to be completely eliminated.
Prednisone works by decreasing the activity of the immune system. The immune system reacts by producing inflammation and swelling, and this action is blocked by Prednisone.
It is best to take this drug along with food. Do not crush or break the delayed-release tablet. If you are taking Prednisone once a day, take it in the morning. And if you are taking twice, then give ample time between both the doses.
Prednisone needs to be converted to Prednisolone, which is the active form, by the liver. It takes roughly about 4 to 6 hours to start working, and you will see changes in about 1 to 4 days.
Your doctor will decide the dosage and duration based on your age, condition, and severity of the disease. For some conditions, only a short course for a couple of weeks is prescribed. But for chronic conditions like asthma, Prednisone has to be taken every day or every other day for months or years.
The side effects associated with short-term Prednisone use are weight gain, tiredness, water retention, irritability, mood swings, high blood sugar, and stomach problems.
You can take Prednisone every day if your doctor has prescribed it.
Prednisone is known to cause sleep disturbances and insomnia. So it is best to avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks while on Prednisone, as it can make your sleep problem worse.
Prednisone if taken on an empty stomach increases the risk of stomach ulcers. So always take it with food.
Last reviewed at:
16 Jul 2019 - 5 min read
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