Guide to Prednisone
It has proven effective in suppressing the immune system, which sometimes over responds to an illness with a variety of uncomfortable or painful symptoms.
What Does Prednisone Treat and Who Is It For?
Prednisone can ameliorate or eliminate a number of immune system health challenges.
Prednisone treatments are very specific: each health problem has to be addressed with its own particular protocol when it comes to how much to take and when to take it.
The reasons a doctor might recommend it is because clinical trials have shown that it is an effective treatment for a large number of health conditions.
Diseases or Disorders
Your doctor might prescribe it for the following diseases or disorders:
- Arthritis (particularly for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis)
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Blood disorders
- Allergies (including severe ones)
- Breathing disorders
- Skin diseases
- Eye problems (including vision issues)
- Skin conditions
- Ulcerative colitis
- Multiple sclerosis flare ups
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Health Issues Related to Bodily Systems
It is also used to help health issues affecting the kidneys, bone marrow, stomach, bowel, endocrine system and adrenal glands.
Reduces Organ Transplant Risk
Besides its use to help with diseases and disorders, since prednisone suppresses the immune system, it is also used by people who have just had an organ transplant.
Doctors sometimes recommend it to organ transplant recipients to reduce their body trying to reject the new organ.
Why Doctor’s Recommend Prednisone
The reason your doctor might choose prednisone over other possible medications is because it’s an effective corticosteroid, meaning it is a cortisone-like steroid that provides significant relief for allergic reactions, swelling, itching, and skin redness.
What Are the Ingredients of Prednisone?
Prednisone tablets are generally administered in 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg.
It typically consists of the following inactive ingredients:
- Anhydrous lactose
- Colloidal silicon dioxide
- Magnesium stearate
- Microcrystalline cellulose
- Sodium starch glycolate
Common Prednisone Side Effects
Like almost all medications, prednisone has side effects, but not everyone experiences the same ones or any at all.
If you have side effects after you take prednisone, you should call your doctor immediately.
Some side effects might be problems with vision, as well as pain in the eyes, red eyes, or tearing. Other possible side effects are similar to catching the flu, like fever and chills, as well as a sore throat and cough.
Then there are physical problems like tight muscles, muscular twitching, or seizures. Finally, there are psychological types of problems like depression, confusion and a loss of contact with reality.
The Food and Drug Administration says that the most common side effects are the following:
- A feeling of malaise, loss of potassium, weight gain and high blood pressure due to retaining sodium and too much water
- A sense of muscle weakness
- A feeling of nausea which can often induce vomiting
- Insomnia or problems falling asleep
- General anxiety and restlessness
- Acne and thinning skin
Still, it bears repeating that only a few people experience these side effects; however, if they do occur, you must talk to your doctor right away, rather than tolerate these side effects in the hope that they will diminish or because the benefits of prednisone appear to be greater than the side effects.
There is no single set of recommendations of the dosage you should consume. Instead, the dosage will vary considerably based on the condition you are experiencing. So, consult with your doctor about how much you should be taking and when.
Let’s take a look at two examples of how dosage differs based on the condition you are taking it for:
Example #1: Addison’s disease
If someone is taking prednisone for maintenance therapy for Addison’s disease or adrenocortical insufficiency, the doctor will recommend an oral dosage of 5 mg in the morning and 2.5 mg in the evening for adults, or 4 mg/m2 to 5 mg/m2 to be administered one to four times a day.
Example #2: Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
If someone is taking prednisone for congenital adrenal hyperplasia, the doctor will recommend an oral dosage of 2.5 mg or 5 mg only once a day and before going to bed, or 12 mg/m2 to 13 mg/m2 to be given in divided doses two to three times a day.
These two examples should illustrate that you can’t generalize how much to take or when to take it. The doctor’s recommendation will be specific to your health conditions.
Follow Dosage Instructions to the Letter
Prednisone doses are not flexible. If you are taking prednisone, you must follow doctor’s instructions. Avoid forgetting to take it or deciding that you need to take more or less than the recommended dosage because of how you feel or because of a book, article, or information you got from the Internet.
Two General Usage Guidelines
But there are two general guidelines you should follow regardless of what dosage the doctor recommends:
First, always take it with food, as this will help you avoid getting an upset stomach.
Second, if you have been taking it for some time, don’t stop taking it even all the symptoms of your health issues that you have been using it for have cleared away. Instead, inform your doctor, who will then give you instructions on how to gradually reduce your dosage.
The reason this is important is because you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you abruptly discontinue this medication.
Warnings: Before You Take Prednisone, Talk to Your Healthcare Provider
Although Prednisone offers benefits for a wide number of diseases or disorder, it is not for everyone.
You should not take it if you have the following conditions:
- You are allergic to this medication or any of the ingredients in it
- You have a fungal infection. Usually, this is applicable if the infection is internal.
- You have a bacterial or viral infection and are not taking any anti-infectives (medications to control the infection).
- You plan to take the mumps, measles, yellow fever, or rubella vaccine.
- You have gastrointestinal issues like peptic ulcers or diverticulitis.
Although prednisone is also not recommended for herpes simplex of the eye, chicken pox, or measles, the doctor may have to use it in an emergency if you are having an allergic type of reaction to these diseases. Treatment is short-term and only for the purpose of helping you overcome a critical medical emergency.
How Much Prednisone Can You Take in One Day?
The doctor will tell you exactly how much to take a day based on your specific health problem.
As a medication, it is available as a tablet, solution, or delayed release tablet. Usually, prednisone is taken orally, but it is also possible to use it as a topical medication
Prednisone Addiction Risks
Prednisone isn’t an addictive medication. Still, you can’t abruptly stop taking it after your health issues are cleared. Instead, your doctor will recommend how to gradually decrease your dosage.
If you simply stop taking it because you feel better and don’t think you need it anymore, then you will experience one or more highly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Prednisone withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, muscular aches, joint pains, loss of appetite, feeling weak, nausea, and lightheadedness.
So, you must follow the doctor’s instructions to progressively get off this medication.
You will need a doctor’s prescription to get prednisone. Although milder corticosteroids like hydrocortisone is an over-the-counter drug, prednisone requires medical supervision.
Medical supervision is necessary for the following reasons:
- There could be counter interactions with foods, supplements, or other drugs based on your medical history.
- You need the right dosage for your health condition. (Different health conditions require completely different dosages and timing.)
- You need to be monitored to see how well it is working or if you should discontinue using it based on side-effects.
- You need to gradually decrease dosage when you no longer need the medication. Without a gradual withdrawal, you will experience a number of withdrawal symptoms.
Prednisone Interactions: What Should You Avoid Taking With Prednisone?
Tell your doctor all the medicines you are taking before using prednisone. He or she will then research if there are any negative interactions with your current medications.
For instance, prednisone will react adversely to the following drugs:
- Blood thinners. Example: warfarin (Coumadin)
- Antifungal drugs. Examples: fluconazole (Diflucan), ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox),
- Anti-nausea drugs. Example: Aprepitant (Emend).
You may have to make some dietary changes when you take prednisone.
Go on a low-salt diet to reduce having too much potassium and calcium in your system.
Similarly, you should not take any supplement that has potassium or calcium, and check with your doctor to see if you can still eat grapefruit or have it in a juice form.
Prednisone and Pregnancy
Prednisone is not safe to take if you are pregnant. Since it is an oral corticosteroid, it increases the chances of premature birth (when birth occurs before 37 weeks).
However, even if birth is not premature, your baby will be prone to lower birth weight.
Since prednisone is a generic drug, it is available from a large number of manufacturers and suppliers.
Some other names for the generic drug prednisone are US brand-name drugs like Rayos, Prednicot, Deltasone, predniSONE Intensol, Sterapred, and Sterapred DS.
FDA Approval Status of Prednisone
Prednisone is FDA approved. It was approved on July 26, 2012, under the brand name Rayos.
Be Honest with Your Doctor
One of the most important things to remember about prednisone is that it is most effective when your doctor’s orders are followed as closely as possible.
This means that you should not forget to take it, take less of it than recommended because you don’t want to take drugs or take more of it than recommended because you want to reduce discomfort and pain faster.
You must communicate clearly with your doctor, be honest about any other medications you are taking, the foods you are eating, and the supplements you are using. This will avoid any problems related to counter effects and interactions.
Additionally, communicate any side effects that you might be experiencing. Your doctor may decide that prednisone is not the best solution for you after he or she learns about the side effects or the dosage may have to be changed.
Finally, if you will be taking prednisone for a long time, then you may need to have more regular health checks. In particular, urine or blood tests may reveal some unwanted effects.
Here are three key ideas to keep in mind about how to effectively use prednisone:
- Prednisone efficacy is its ability to reduce your immune systems strong reactions to a disease, which causes all sorts of highly uncomfortable or painful symptoms. Consequently: your doctor will use prednisone as part of a treatment plan for a variety of health problems that require the immune system to be repressed.
- You should only take prednisone if your doctor recommends it for you and you must follow the dosage recommendations. If you do experience side-effects, inform your doctor immediately. He or she may then take you off the medication or reduce your dosage.
- Once your treatment plan is complete, you cannot simply stop using prednisone. If you do, you will experience a variety of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, ranging from feeling dizzy to aches and pains. Instead, your doctor will give you a protocol to wean yourself off the drug.