What to Know About Prednisone
Certain medical conditions occur because areas of the body become inflamed. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that basically work by suppressing the immune system. Your body has natural corticosteroids called cortisol but may not be producing enough. This medication works by mimicking the behavior of cortisol so the body believes the levels are normal.
Initial and Daily Dosage
Typical starting doses range from 5mg to 60mg daily depending on the diagnosed medical condition and other medications you may be taking. Because people react differently to this drug, it is likely your doctor will make adjustments in your treatment. There are several ways to take this medication. It is available as a tablet or liquid. It can be taken orally, used topically, or injected. Patients can take one tablet daily or split it into two or four doses throughout the day. This should be decided in consultation with your doctor. You should not expect to feel the benefits of the medication for several days after beginning treatment.
Most side effects are associated with extended use or high doses of the medication. These include high blood pressure, weight gain, fluid retention, muscle weakness, thinning of the skin, stomach ulcers, and insomnia to name a few. Patients who experience side effects may have mild to severe symptoms.
It is possible for the adrenal glands to stop producing any cortisol at all with extended use of this medication. The glands can atropy as a result. For this reason, it is recommended that patients never suddenly stop taking the medication. It is safer to have your doctor taper dosages down to zero. This prevents further damage to adrenal glands and gives them time to sufficiently recover. If you do not follow this withdrawal process, you can experience an adrenal crisis with symptoms that include severe vomiting and shock.
There are specific drugs and supplements that Prednisone is known to negatively interact with including antibiotics and estrogen. Results of these interactions may include possible decrease of effectiveness in either medication or an increase in liver enzyme activity.
You may be required to take supplements such as calcium or vitamin D if you are on long-term Prednisone treatment. High doses of the medication are also known to cause brittle bones and osteoporosis.
You should know as much as possible about Prednisone before taking it. Any medication that suppresses the immune system increases your risk for infections. Your doctor will closely monitor you while you are on this drug.