Prednisone is used alone or with other medications to treat the symptoms of low corticosteroid levels (lack of certain substances that are usually produced by the body and are needed for normal body functioning). Prednisone is also used to treat other conditions in patients with normal corticosteroid levels. These conditions include certain types of arthritis; severe allergic reactions; multiple sclerosis (a disease in which the nerves do not function properly); lupus (a disease in which the body attacks many of its own organs); and certain conditions that affect the lungs, skin, eyes, kidneys blood, thyroid, stomach, and intestines. Prednisone is also sometimes used to treat the symptoms of certain types of cancer. Prednisone is in a class of medications called corticosteroids. It works to treat patients with low levels of corticosteroids by replacing steroids that are normally produced naturally by the body. It works to treat other conditions by reducing swelling and redness and by changing the way the immune system works.
Prednisone comes as a tablet, a solution (liquid), and a concentrated solution to take by mouth. Prednisone is usually taken with food one to four times a day or once every other day. Your doctor will probably tell you to take your dose(s) of prednisone at certain time(s) of day every day. Your personal dosing schedule will depend on your condition and on how you respond to treatment. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take prednisone exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often or for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor.
If you are taking the concentrated solution, use the specially marked dropper that comes with the medication to measure your dose. You may mix the concentrated solution with juice, other flavored liquids, or soft foods such as applesauce.
Your doctor may change your dose of prednisone often during your treatment to be sure that you are always taking the lowest dose that works for you. Your doctor may also need to change your dose if you experience unusual stress on your body such as surgery, illness, infection, or a severe asthma attack. Tell your doctor if your symptoms improve or get worse or if you get sick or have any changes in your health during your treatment.
If you are taking prednisone to treat a long-lasting disease, the medication may help control your condition but will not cure it. Continue to take prednisone even if you feel well. Do not stop taking prednisone without talking to your doctor. If you suddenly stop taking prednisone, your body may not have enough natural steroids to function normally. This may cause symptoms such as extreme tiredness, weakness, slowed movements, upset stomach, weight loss, changes in skin color, sores in the mouth, and craving for salt. Call your doctor if you experience these or other unusual symptoms while you are taking decreasing doses of prednisone or after you stop taking the medication.
Prednisone is also sometimes used with antibiotics to treat a certain type of pneumonia in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this drug for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Your doctor may instruct you to follow a low-salt, high potassium, or high calcium diet. Your doctor may also prescribe or recommend a calcium or potassium supplement. Follow these directions carefully.
Talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while you are taking this medication.
When you start to take prednisone, ask your doctor what to do if you forget to take a dose. Write down these instructions so that you can refer to them later. Call your doctor or pharmacist if you miss a dose and do not know what to do. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.
difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
extreme changes in mood
changes in personality
thin, fragile skin
red or purple blotches or lines under the skin
slowed healing of cuts and bruises
increased hair growth
changes in the way fat is spread around the body
irregular or absent menstrual periods
decreased sexual desire
eye pain, redness, or tearing
sore throat, fever, chills, cough, or other signs of infection
loss of contact with reality
muscle twitching or tightening
shaking of the hands that you cannot control
numbness, burning, or tingling in the face, arms, legs, feet, or hands
sudden weight gain
shortness of breath, especially during the night
dry, hacking cough
swelling or pain in the stomach
swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
difficulty breathing or swallowing
Prednisone may slow growth and development in children. Your child's doctor will watch his or her growth carefully. Talk to your child's doctor about the risks of giving prednisone to your child.
Prednisone may increase the risk that you will develop osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking prednisone and about things that you can do to decrease the chance that you will develop osteoporosis.
Some patients who took prednisone or similar medications developed a type of cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking prednisone.
Prednisone may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body's response to prednisone.
If you are having any skin tests such as allergy tests or tuberculosis tests, tell the doctor or technician that you are taking prednisone.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Reviewed - 09/01/2010
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2014. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.