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Prednisone: Uses, Warnings, And More

Fact-Checked

Prednisone is an approved corticosteroid drug widely prescribed to treat several medical conditions.

Generally, the drug has been beneficial in treating many autoimmune diseases and other serious illnesses.

Prednisone intake weakens an individual’s immune system and causes the blockage of inflammation-causing chemicals.

Thus, the drug helps lower chronic inflammation caused due to an individual’s immune response.

But, besides the beneficial role, prednisone usage comes with several warnings and side effects which will be briefly discussed in this article.

Prednisone Uses

Doctors prescribe Prednisone to treat several chronic health conditions, which are as follows:

  1. Asthma

    Asthma is a pulmonary health condition in which the immune system attacks after a non-harmful substance enters the respiratory tract, resulting in chronic inflammation and swelling of respiratory tubes and tightening respiratory smooth muscles.

    Thus, such a condition makes it difficult to breathe for the patient. Here, prednisone consumption may help suppress[1] inflammation and swelling for easy respiration.

  2. Adrenocorticoid Deficiency

    People suffering from such deficiency fail to produce sufficient cortisol for their body resulting in increased stress and lack of tissue repair.

    Here, Prednisone may potentially[2] replace cortisol in the body and perform its functions.

  3. Organ Rejection

    During an organ transplant, a foreign organ is introduced into the body. In such cases, the human immune system recognizes the new organ as foreign and starts attacking it to cause damage.

    Here, giving a prednisone dose to the patient would suppress such a reaction[3] and avoid rejections.

  4. Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis is a medical condition in which the immune system starts damaging the joint tissues resulting in severe inflammation.

    Severe arthritis conditions may lead to stiffness, swelling, and pain in the affected joints.

    In such cases, taking Prednisone could be beneficial[4] as it reduces inflammation, pain, and swelling by lowering cytokine protein concentration.

  5. Blood Cell Diseases

    Prednisone could help treat some blood cell diseases like anemia, which is caused due to low RBC count.

    In anemia, the immune system starts destroying the red blood cells resulting in their low count. Prednisone could lower[5] anemia symptoms, including rapid heartbeat and fatigue.

    In some cases, Prednisone could help get back the platelet count by suppressing the immune system’s negative response.

  6. Skin Problems

    Some skin diseases cause the overproduction of inflammatory markers, resulting in symptoms like skin reddening, inflammation, peeling, etc.

    Prednisone could help[6] control the excessive inflammatory marker production and cure the condition.

  7. Crohn’s Disease

    It is a digestive disorder that is caused due to excess production of inflammatory cytokines in the digestive tract.

    Such overproduction leads to inflammation in the small intestine and colon, resulting in diarrhea, stomach ache, etc.

    Hence, consuming Prednisone would lower the cytokine protein concentration and inflammatory symptoms to improve[7] such a condition.

  8. Other Medical Conditions

    Prednisone doses could be used to treat or lower symptoms of several other medical conditions, including Psoriasis, Lymphoma, Lupus, Tuberculosis, Ulcerative colitis, several allergies, etc.

Prednisone Side Effects

Common Side Effects

Generally, the side effects related to Prednisone are mild and temporary. Such side effects are observed[8] in lower dosages and short-term consumption.

Depending on the severity, these side effects may last up to a few weeks. Some common side effects observed due to Prednisone consumption are as follows:

  • Acne
  • Mood Swings
  • Increased Blood Pressure And Blood Sugar Levels
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Weight Gain
  • Nausea

Serious Side Effects

  • Bone Loss

    Prolonged consumption of Prednisone may cause[9] excessive bone density loss. Such a condition makes an individual prone to fractures.

  • Cardiovascular Problems

    Prednisone may cause a mineral imbalance between phosphate, calcium, and potassium resulting in elevated blood pressure.

    Sometimes high-dose Prednisone may cause the deposition of cholesterol in the arteries, as per this study[10].

  • Gastrointestinal Problems

    Patients may have severe gastrointestinal problems due to prednisone intake. The steroid drug may cause gastric ulcer formation, gastrointestinal bleeding[11], and gastritis in patients.

  • Defective Vision

    Blur vision is another common side effect observed due to excess prednisone consumption.

    Moreover, consuming Prednisone more than 10 mg daily may increase the risk[12] of developing cataracts.

  • Cushing Syndrome

    An increased dose of Prednisone may cause[13] an increase in cortisol levels in the body.

    Thus, such a higher concentration leads to the distribution of fatty tissues in different regions, including shoulder blades, face, etc.

    Cushing syndrome in kids may lead to impaired or unusual growth.

  • Muscle Weakness

    In some cases, Prednisone may cause the weakening of the legs and arms muscles. The condition[14] may require medical attention if the weakness persists.

  • Adrenal Insufficiency

    Adrenal insufficiency is a severe side effect primarily observed[15] due to increased cortisol concentration in the body.

    High cortisol levels stop the functioning of the adrenal gland resulting in adrenal atrophy and adrenal insufficiency.

    Sometimes, such a condition leads[16] to Addison’s disease, in which the patient experiences a sudden drop in blood pressure, blood sugar, and increased potassium levels.

    The sudden change in different blood sugar, blood pressure, and potassium levels could be life-threatening in some cases.

  • Mental Health

    Prednisone may have a severe impact on an individual’s mental health. Generally, symptoms related to mental health are observed within a few days of starting therapy.

    But, it may vary depending on the dose and longevity of consumption.

    People consuming Prednisone in higher dosage may experience[17] symptoms like anxiety, hypomania, etc., and depression in severe cases.

    But, people consuming 20 mg of Prednisone daily may develop[18] corticosteroid-induced psychosis.

Warnings Related to Prednisone Consumption

You should be aware of different warnings before consuming Prednisone. Some of these warnings are for healthy people, while some are specific to a few conditions.

  • Weakens Immune System

    Prednisone consumption may weaken your immune system, resulting[8] in an increased risk of diseases and infections.

    Hence, you should distance yourself from people with serious infectious diseases like chickenpox.

  • Avoid Live Vaccines

    Prednisone consumers must avoid taking live vaccines as the immune system may fail[19] to adapt or handle the vaccine. Hence, such conditions may lead to severe infections.

  • Allergic Reactions

    Some people experience allergic reactions after consuming Prednisone oral tablets. These allergic reactions could be mild or severe, depending on the dosage.

    Generally, people having allergies to prednisone tablets may experience skin rashes, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the tongue, lips, and face.

    Hence, you should avoid consuming[20] Prednisone if you encounter such conditions.

Warnings For Certain Health Conditions

  • Heart Or Kidney Patients

    Prednisone consumption could be harmful to patients with existing heart or kidney disease.

    Generally, Prednisone may increase[21] salt and water retention resulting in increased blood pressure, thus, increasing the risk of heart attack and strokes.

    Moreover, salt retention may lower kidney function resulting in increased kidney problems.

  • People With Eye Problems

    People with eye diseases like herpes infection should avoid taking prednisone tablets.

    Moreover, prolonged Prednisone consumption may increase eye problems and cause conditions like glaucoma[22] and cataracts[12].

  • People Experiencing Mood Swings

    Prednisone may seriously impact an individual’s mood, resulting in frequent mood swings.

    Moreover, it may increase[23] symptoms related to stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

  • Diabetic Patient

    Diabetic patients should avoid consuming Prednisone as it may increase[24] blood sugar levels. But, you may consume the drug in a controlled dose after consulting a doctor.

    Moreover, you should ask for a dose change if you experience changes in blood sugar levels.

  • Pregnant Woman

    Prednisone consumption is strictly prohibited for pregnant women unless some serious condition requires the drug.

    It is believed that prednisone consumption by the mother may severely impact[25] the growing fetus. Sometimes it may disrupt the baby’s growth and development.

  • Aged Persons

    Aging makes an individual’s vital organs, like kidneys, lungs, liver, etc., function slowly.

    Prednisone consumed by an individual is processed in the liver and excreted through the kidney.

    Hence, mild to high doses of Prednisone may seriously impact[26] these vital organs.

Prednisone Dosage

Prednisone is a widely accepted medicine to treat 60 different medical conditions.

Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration has also approved the drug’s usage for medicinal purposes.

Hence, doctors could recommend[27] Prednisone in the required dosage as applicable.

Generally, prednisone dosage is calculated based on certain factors, including age, medical condition, severity, reaction to the first dose, and other medical conditions.

Hence, the dose may vary among different medical conditions and situations. Prednisone is available in different forms, including tablets and oral solutions.

These forms are available in multiple dosages for various medical conditions.

  • Tablets are available in 1mg, 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg, 20mg, and 50mg doses.
  • Oral solutions are available in 5mg/5ml doses.

Oral prednisone intensol are highly concentrated prednisone oral solutions available in 5mg/ml doses.

Generally, the prednisone dose for a medical condition may vary between 2.5mg/day to 1250mg/day.

But, the higher dose should not be continued for more than 3-5 days. The standard prednisone dose for an adult is between 5-60 mg.

On the other hand, the maximum prednisone dose for an adult may vary depending on the disease’s severity.

Conclusion

Prednisone is a crucial medicine in treating several severe medical conditions.

But, as the drug has several side effects and warnings, you should be careful while consuming Prednisone for any medical conditions.

Moreover, it would be best to consult a doctor for an appropriate dose based on the condition.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Abdullah A. Alangari Corticosteroids in the treatment of acute asthma Ann Thorac Med. 2014 Oct-Dec; 9(4): 187–192.doi: 10.4103/1817-1737.140120
  2. Nicolas C Nicolaides, Aikaterini N Pavlaki, Maria Alexandra, et al. Glucocorticoid Therapy and Adrenal Suppression Last Update: October 19, 2018. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279156/
  3. Robert W. Steiner and Linda Awdishu Steroids in kidney transplant patients Semin Immunopathol. 2011; 33(2): 157–167. Published online 2011 Feb 18. doi: 10.1007/s00281-011-0259-7
  4. S S Lim, D L Conn The use of low-dose prednisone in the management of rheumatoid arthritis Bull Rheum Dis. 2001;50(12):1-4. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12386945/
  5. Alberto Zanella and Wilma Barcellini Treatment of autoimmune hemolytic anemias Haematologica. 2014 Oct; 99(10): 1547–1554.doi: 10.3324/haematol.2014.114561
  6. W Raab Effects of local corticosteroids in skin infections Dermatologica. 1976;152 Suppl 1:67-79. doi: 10.1159/000257867. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/955239/
  7. Kevin Barrett, Sonia Saxena, and Richard Pollok Using corticosteroids appropriately in inflammatory bowel disease: a guide for primary care Br J Gen Pract. 2018 Oct; 68(675): 497–498.doi: 10.3399/bjgp18X699341
  8. Yana Puckett; Aishah Gabbar; Abdullah A. Bokhari. Prednisone Last Update: May 8, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534809/
  9. Karine Briot and Christian Roux Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis RMD Open. 2015; 1(1): e000014.Published online 2015 Apr 8. doi: 10.1136/rmdopen-2014-000014
  10. D E Sholter, P W Armstrong Adverse effects of corticosteroids on the cardiovascular system Can J Cardiol. 2000 Apr;16(4):505-11. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10787466/
  11. Sigrid Narum, Tone Westergren, and Marianne Klemp Corticosteroids and risk of gastrointestinal bleeding: a systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ Open. 2014; 4(5): e004587.Published online 2014 May 15. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004587
  12. Andrew I Jobling, Robert C Augusteyn What causes steroid cataracts? A review of steroid-induced posterior subcapsular cataracts Clin Exp Optom. 2002 Mar;85(2):61-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1444-0938.2002.tb03011.x. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11952401/
  13. Hammad S. Chaudhry; Gurdeep Singh. Cushing Syndrome Last Update: June 27, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470218/
  14. Natalya Surmachevska; Vivekanand Tiwari. Corticosteroid Induced Myopathy Last Update: May 1, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557731/
  15. Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Gregory A Kaltsas, and George P Chrousos. Adrenal Suppression Last Update: October 1, 2018. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279047/
  16. Mike Ankcorn and Sath Nag Addison’s disease masked by long term exogenous steroid treatment for presumed polymyalgia rheumatica Clin Med (Lond). 2012 Feb; 12(1): 89–90.doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.12-1-89
  17. E. Sherwood Brown and Patricia A. Chandler Mood and Cognitive Changes During Systemic Corticosteroid Therapy Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2001 Feb; 3(1): 17–21.doi: 10.4088/pcc.v03n0104
  18. Grace Huynh and Justin P. Reinert Pharmacological Management of Steroid-Induced Psychosis: A Review of Patient Cases J Pharm Technol. 2021 Apr; 37(2): 120–126.Published online 2020 Dec 2. doi: 10.1177/8755122520978534
  19. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP): Use of Vaccines and Immune Globulins in Persons with Altered Immunocompetence Page converted: 09/19/98 Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00023141.htm
  20. Prednisolone Last reviewed: December 2020 Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/prednisolone
  21. B A van Acker, M F Prummel, J A Weber, et al. Effect of prednisone on renal function in man Nephron. 1993;65(2):254-9. doi: 10.1159/000187484. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8247189/
  22. Kaberi B. Feroze; Leila Khazaeni Steroid Induced Glaucoma Last Update: March 1, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430903/
  23. Jennifer L. Cole Steroid-Induced Sleep Disturbance and Delirium: A Focused Review for Critically Ill Patients Fed Pract. 2020 Jun; 37(6): 260–267.
  24. Héctor Eloy Tamez-Pérez, Dania Lizet Quintanilla-Flores, René Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, et al. Steroid hyperglycemia: Prevalence, early detection and therapeutic recommendations: A narrative review World J Diabetes. 2015 Jul 25; 6(8): 1073–1081.Published online 2015 Jul 25. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i8.1073
  25. Gretchen Bandoli, Kristin Palmsten, Chelsey J. Forbess Smith, et al. A review of systemic corticosteroid use in pregnancy and the risk of select pregnancy and birth outcomes Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2017 Aug; 43(3): 489–502.doi: 10.1016/j.rdc.2017.04.013
  26. P A Keenan, M W Jacobson, R M Soleymani, et al. The effect on memory of chronic prednisone treatment in patients with systemic disease Neurology. 1996 Dec;47(6):1396-402. doi: 10.1212/wnl.47.6.1396. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8960717/
  27. Prednisone Last Revised – 03/15/2020 Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601102.html

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