Prednisone is one of those drugs that have been around for a while. It was developed in the 1950s and to this day it is one of the most commonly prescribed and used generic drugs. It belongs to the drug class of glucocorticoids which is a steroid hormone but not the muscle building kind and is most common in tablet form. Prednisone is mainly used to hold down the immune system by preventing the release of bodily substances that create inflammation. It is absorbed and converted to working enzymes in the liver and of course, too much prednisone can result in liver damage. It is used to treat many different disorders from rare diseases like lupus to allergies to skin conditions and even syphilis. Prednisone is also used as a combination drug for some cancers (lymphoma and leukemia).
How Prednisone Works
Prednisone is one of those drugs that are well known and studied but difficult to control. Think about it, this drug is used to essentially weaken your immune system throughout your body. It works like this: every time you stress out, your adrenal gland (located above the kidney) releases hormones into your blood supply and makes your immune system overreact (inflammation). Prednisone is processed (broken down) in the liver, then goes into the adrenal gland and chemically relaxes it so your immune system can calm down.
Long Term Side Effects
The side effects are most dangerous for diabetics since it increases their blood sugar. Other major side effects include: weight gain, mental confusion such as maintaining train of thought, insomnia, fatigue, stomach pain and blurry vision. The side effects worsen over time since your autoimmune system is weakened and has a reduced ability to fight diseases such as colds.
Short Term Side Effects
It does take a few days for prednisone to kick in so usually the doctor will start a high dosage the first few days and reduce the dosage as time goes on. Over this short period of time, you may experience reactions to your skin such as acne, hives, rashes or dry skin. Headaches are possible with some dizziness and sweating more than normal can also occur. Don’t try and use this drug instead of going to the gym, it’s a different kind of sweating. The longer you use it (months) the worse the side effects get.
One of the most important things is to be careful when taking other medications with Prednisone. Simple medications like aspirin, blood thinners or diuretics (for crash dieters so no quick dieting), can cause internal bleeding in your intestines or ulcers in your stomach. There is also a concern if you are using oral insulin, other oral diabetic medications and seizure medications like Dilantin or Luminal. In addition, did you know that prednisone is prescribed to treat various ailments in pets as well (dogs and cats)?