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Consumer Information about Prednisone

Prednisone is an immune-suppressing, anti-inflammatory medication used to treat certain serious medical conditions. If you have been prescribed Prednisone for your illness or allergy, here are a few things you should know:

Prednisone is a corticosteroid

As a corticosteroid, Prednisone mimics the function of the adrenal gland, which produces the hormone cortisol. It inhibits the production of prostaglandins, which act as a facilitator of allergic and inflammatory responses. Prednisone is also an immune-suppressant, and is often prescribed to patients whose immune systems begin attacking different organs in the body.

The effects of Prednisone are almost immediate

One of the reasons Prednisone is prescribed to many patients is because it is so quick-acting. Patients who are suffering from debilitating joint pain are often prescribed Prednisone for more or less instant relief before their other medications take effect. However, patients who are taking Prednisone specifically for joint pain should be aware that it can increase joint damage if taken in large doses over a long period of time.

Prednisone should not be stopped suddenly

If for some reason you or your doctor no longer feels as though the administration of Prednisone is beneficial for you, make sure you cease taking the medication gradually, rather than stopping at once. When Prednisone is halted immediately after having been on a long course of corticosteroid, the body can respond by going into adrenal crisis, since the adrenal glands have likely atrophied from lack of use. When the medication is discontinued, it must be done slowly to give the adrenal glands time to recover.

There are different ways for a patient to wean him or herself off of Prednisone. Naturally, you must consult your doctor for specific doses and timetables, but the dosages can be incrementally reduced on a monthly basis by 5mg when the regular dosage was over 40mg. Once the dosage is lowered to 20mg, then the reduction decreases to 2.5mg.

Patients who are tapering their course of Prednisone might feel fatigue or joint pain. If the side effects are too severe, the tapering can be done even more slowly.

Prednisone should be started at low doses

This, of course, depends upon your doctor's analysis, but Prednisone at dosages of higher than 5mg has been known to lead to complications such as cataracts, osteoporosis and the inability of the body to efficiently heal wounds – although it is far more common to see such complications at much higher doses – approximately 20mgs or more.

Disclose all of your other medications to your doctor before beginning treatment with Prednisone

Because drug interactions are highly common with Prednisone, it is very important for your doctor to know what other drugs you are currently taking. Estrogen treatments may inhibit the effects of Prednisone, causing the need for higher doses and possible complications as a result. Also, antibiotics and vaccines are rendered less effective if taken with Prednisone.

If you suffer from an illness or chronic condition that you feel may be helped by Prednisone, talk to your doctor, who will determine if it is an appropriate course for you.