What Are the Common and More Serious Side Effects of Prednisone?

Side effects of prednisone are a steroidal drug that is primarily used as an immunity suppressant. It is prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling in cases of arthritis and improve breathing in an asthmatic attack. Prednisone is a quick-acting corticosteroid that acts directly on the body’s immune system and suppresses its activity to reduce inflammation and swelling. It is a drug most commonly used as a first-line treatment for autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, and Celiac disease. 

Prednisone is safe and very effective in treating so many diseases that cause the hyperactivity of the immune system. It is safe, however, with proper instructions from the prescribing doctor. While this drug successfully treats several diseases, there are more than a few side effects of prednisone that must be endured to see the drug’s full value. These side effects are briefly discussed below.

Highlights of Prednisone –

  • Prednisone is a corticosteroid used to suppress the activity of the immune system.
  • The drug reduces the immune response to foreign matter, such as dust and allergens, and is commonly used to treat asthma and allergic disorders.
  • Prednisone is available on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.
  • Prednisone is safe to use in children as well as in elderly people.
  • It is available in various forms, such as oral tablets, topical creams, inhalers, and eye drops.
  • It can cause several side effects that may be serious in the long term.

Prednisone side effects –

Take Prednisone for a week, which may not cause any side effects. But taking Prednisone for a few months or at a higher dose can lead to the following side effects. 

Also, Read Nimesulide and Paracetamol tablets: Uses, Benefits, Side effects, and Warnings.

1. Fluid retention

Moon’s face is the highlight side effect of taking Prednisone medication. Prednisone is notorious for retaining sodium levels in the body. This leads to water retention around the neck, which causes the face and neck region to bulge as a “moon.” Fluid retention may also occur in the legs and around the ankles. This effect is commonly seen in the long-term use of Prednisone.

2. Infection

Suppressing immunity means the body’s natural defense system is compromised for as long as the drug is used. This makes the patient more immune to pathogens and disease-causing bacterial infections, fungal infections, and viral infections. 

3. Allergic reaction-

  • While an anaphylactic shock is rare, it can occur in people who have never been exposed to a steroidal medication.
  • Steroidal acne is another common side effect seen with the intake of steroidal medication. Acne may disappear once you discontinue the drug.

4. Behavioral side effects –

  • Hyperactivity- the immune activity may be lowered, but the mind is hyperactive and excited with Prednisone.
  • Mood changes- Anxiety, depression, confusion, and frightened thoughts are frequent signs.
  • Mental disorders- Insomnia, hallucinations, delirium, hearing things, and memory loss may also occur.

Also, Read Teens Health: Eating Disorders, Sexual & Mental Health

5. Gastrointestinal side effects-

  • Taking prednisone tablets can make your stomach more susceptible to ulcers, thin down the lining of the stomach, and even cause internal bleeding. Other side effects of prednisone are
  • stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Red or black colored feces
  • Increase in appetite

6. Oral side effects –

Oral side effects in the mouth usually arise with an inhaler pump. Effects seen in the oral cavity include:

  • Thrush- a fungal infection that causes a white lining on the lips
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Color change of saliva (appears yellow)
  • Wounds or cuts in the mouth that take a long time to heal

Also Read Flexon Tablet: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and related Warnings.

7. Serious side effects-

The more serious and life-long lasting side effects of prednisone are:

  • Kaposi sarcoma- cancerous lesions formed on the skin, in the lymph nodes, and even on the internal organs. It is a common symptom in HIV patients due to compromised immunity.
  • Cushing’s syndrome- can be life-threatening and is usually caused by the long-term use of corticosteroids and glucocorticoids.
  • Adrenal insufficiency- The adrenal glands produce less cortisol upon long-term use of externally administered steroidal drugs. This often is associated with the withdrawal symptoms seen with prednisone use.

8. Long-term side effects-

Long-term use of Prednisone is often taken only when the benefits far exceed the side effects. Long-term use of any steroidal medication can cause detrimental and lasting effects on the body, as discussed below:

  • Thinning of the skin- It is normally in patients who use strong topical skin creams for more than 6 months. Bruising is a common occurrence along with skin thinning.
  • Weight gain – The effect occurs due to fluid buildup in the body in the legs, neck, ankles, and arms.
  • Loss of bone density- people on long-term oral Prednisone have reported a loss of up to 20% in bone mass in just 6 months of taking Prednisone. This often leads to more serious conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes- long-term use of Prednisone is known to keep blood sugar levels elevated. If you’re a diabetic patient taking Prednisone, monitor your blood sugar levels more frequently.
  • Poor eyesight- some reports suggest that long-term use of Prednisone can cause cataracts and glaucoma. Elderly patients are advised to report any symptoms or poor vision.
  • Withdrawal syndrome- long-term use of Prednisone, either as oral tablets or topical creams, must always be tapered down and then stopped. One must never stop the use of Prednisone abruptly. This can cause severe reactions in the body, which can even lead to death.
  • Side effects in children –
  • Children and teenagers who take Prednisone may have stunted growth. The doctor will need to monitor the child’s height continuously, especially if Prednisone is to be taken long.
  • Children are more susceptible to infections since they have a weak and underdeveloped immunity that is further compromised by the use of Prednisone.

Read Also: Cyclopam Tablet: Uses, Benefits, Side effects, and related warnings.

Tips to stay healthy while taking Prednisone.

  • Reduce the intake of sodium in foods. This can reduce the chances of fluid retention.
  • Use herbal home remedies such as turmeric in milk, ginger teas, and onion syrups. These can boost your immunity and protect you from undesired infections.
  • Exercise regularly and monitor your weight.
  • Do not overdose or underdose. Take medicine strictly as prescribed.

Also Read: Zerodol SP Tablet Uses, Benefits, dosage, Side Effects, concerns 

FAQs –

Does Prednisone affect the kidneys?

Prednisone is a kidney-friendly drug that can reduce inflammation in the kidneys. It also improves renal function and can be taken by patients suffering from a kidney disorder.

What are the side effects of Prednisone in children?

Prednisone compromises the immunity of children and makes them more susceptible to infections. Long-term use of Prednisone is also known to cause stunted growth in growing children.

Can Prednisone be taken by children below 17 years?

Prednisone is safe to use in children below the age of 17 years. It is also safe to be taken by children above the age of 3. Special pediatric formulations of Prednisone are available for children.

Conclusion –

Prednisone is an excellent drug that is very commonly prescribed in treating diseases that require your immunity to be suppressed. It is also essential to be used as a long-term medication for an organ transplant or blood transfusion. While Prednisone is safe to use for all its benefits, being a steroidal drug means it brings several side effects. Some of these side effects are minor and usually go away once you stop taking the drug. However, some side effects can be life-long and sometimes even life-threatening. It is wise to understand these side effects before you take the medication and speak to your doctor about any doubts that may arise.

Bishwajeet Singh

Bishwajeet Singh is a general health expert and writer who provides comprehensive and well-researched information on various health topics. With a deep understanding of the human body and its functions, he is able to explain complex medical concepts in simple terms to educate and empower his readers. Whether it's covering the latest health trends, exploring innovative treatments or providing tips for a healthy lifestyle, Singh’s writing style is engaging, informative and always backed by solid evidence.

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