Prednisone is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1950s to treat inflammation associated with lupus. Prednisone may be prescribed at a low dose for maintenance, or at a high dose to control acute flare-ups. In general, it is best keep your dose of Prednisone as low as possible and to limit the length of time you take Prednisone at high doses in order to avoid serious side effects.
Prednisone may not be appropriate for pregnant women or people who have systemic fungal infections.
Prednisone is a corticosteroid, a type of hormone that suppresses immune system response. Prednisone is stronger than Hydrocortisone, but weaker than Methylprednisolone. Prednisone is converted into Prednisolone by the liver. Prednisolone is believed to work by inhibiting or blocking many different inflammatory responses within the body.
How do I take it?
Corticosteroids may be administered orally, topically as creams or ointments for rashes, or by injection into veins, joints, skin or muscles. Prednisone is usually taken orally once or more times per day, or every other day. If you decide to stop taking Prednisone, it is important to tell your doctor and follow a schedule to taper off your dosage. Do not suddenly stop taking Prednisone.
Prednisone is only prescribed in higher doses, greater than 40 milligrams per day, during acute flare-ups. Maintenance doses are generally 20 milligrams or less per day. Lower doses carry less risk of serious side effects.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Prednisone.
Prednisone is considered to be one of the most effective treatments for lupus. For this reason, it is the steroid prescribed most frequently for lupus.
A 2014 article studied the risk of cardiovascular side effects in people with lupus taking Prednisone for maintenance. The researchers advised that maintenance doses of Prednisone for lupus should be kept at significantly lower thresholds in order to avoid the risk of serious side effects.
When taken for a short time, Prednisone can cause side effects including high blood sugar, fluid retention, rounding of the face known as “moon face,” insomnia, euphoria, depression, anxiety and mania.
Longer-term effects of taking Prednisone can include diabetes, weight gain around the trunk, dementia, osteoporosis that may result in fractures, Cushing’s syndrome, glaucoma and cataracts.
People taking Prednisone or other corticosteroids are more susceptible to infection due to the immunosuppressive nature of the drug.
Like all corticosteroids, Prednisone can cause psychological side effects such as mood swings, aggression, agitation or nervousness. Notify your doctor if these changes become intense or difficult to manage.
Rarely, Prednisone can also cause allergic reactions. Get medical help immediately if you experience difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips or tongue.
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