How Prednisone Works to Reduce Inflammation

Prednisone is known as a corticosteroid.  It works by suppressing the immune system, which slows the body’s response to certain diseases or injury and as a result, reduces swelling and inflammation.

  Some of the conditions Prednisone is prescribed to treat include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • lupus
  • asthma
  • juvenile arthritis
  • severe allergies
  • contact dermatitis
  • acute exacerbation of multiple sclerosis
  • pure red cell aplasia associated with chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • obstructive pulmonary disease
  • psoriasis
  • Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • sarcoidosis
  • prevention of liver and kidney transplant rejections
  • prevention of cardiac transplant rejection

How to take Prednisone

Prednisone must be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.  If you do not understand how to or when to take your prescription Prednisone, speak to your pharmacist to get clarification of any instructions you have been given.  The length of time you are to take this medication and the particular dose depends on your individual condition. Prednisone is usually taken with food or milk, as it may cause an upset stomach, but speak to your doctor about how to take your dose.

Prednisone pills

Prednisone pills are available in the following strengths:

Prednisone 1 mg tablet

Prednisone 5 mg tablet

Prednisone 50mg tablet

Prednisone liquid

The liquid form of Prednisone should be carefully measured using the dose measuring spoon or device that comes with your prescription.  It is important not to guess or to use a household teaspoon from your kitchen.

Other tips to remember when taking prescription Prednisone:

  • Do not double your dose.  Talk to your pharmacist about what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Do not stop taking Prednisone without guidance from your health care provider.
  • Monitor your weight and report any dramatic changes (loss or gain) to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms such as vision problems, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, or dizziness.

A warning about stopping Prednisone

It is important not to stop taking your prescription Prednisone without your doctor’s advice, as stopping this medication suddenly may result in serious side effects such as dizziness, fatigue, headache, weakness and nausea.   Usually, your dose must be reduced gradually over time, rather than stopped suddenly.

Side effects of Prednisone

There are a few possible side effects from Prednisone.  Speak to your pharmacist if any of the following symptoms become severe.

  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Mood changes
  • Swelling of face, arms, hands, lower legs or feet
  • Slow healing of cuts or bruising

How Prednisone affects other health conditions

People with diabetes  should take caution while taking Prednisone, as it may cause higher blood sugar.  Also, because Prednisone suppresses the immune system, it  may cause  a higher risk of infection from cuts or scrapes. If you have diabetes, discuss your Prednisone use with your doctor and pharmacist and make sure you are monitoring your blood sugar on a regular basis.

Speak to your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • Diabetes
  • History of allergy to other steroid medications.

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If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784). One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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