Prednisone: the information you should have before you take this drug

What is Prednisone?

This is a corticosteroid and its effect is to reduce inflammation wherever it occurs in the body. This means it can be used in the treatment of very different conditions like asthma, arthritis and skin disorders.

What precautions should you take?

One of the problems with the use of this drug is that it weakens the body’s immune system. So you should not start taking it if you are diagnosed with an infection, particularly a fungal infection, or you have recently had an infection. Once you start taking it, you should also avoid contact with people who are infectious. It can be particularly dangerous if you come into contact with anyone who has measles or chicken pox. It also means you cannot have a vaccination. This may disrupt travel plans since some countries require proof of immunization as a condition of entry. More generally, it is wise to wear a medical alert bracelet so that, if you are involved in an accident or need treatment, the hospital will be alerted.

Dosage instructions

Because it affects your immune system, it is particularly important you follow the instructions given by your regular physician. Do not take risks with this drug and change the dosage on your own initiative or take it for longer than directed. Some people find they have stomach problems. If this affects you, take Prednisone after eating. Do not drink alcohol while taking this drug. When it comes to the time to stop taking this drug, you must again consult your doctor. It may be necessary for you slowly to reduce the dosage to avoid the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

What are the side effects?

There is quite a long list of possible adverse symptoms. If you are only taking Prednisone for a short period of time, most are mild and pass quite quickly. All will disappear when you stop taking the drug. The most common problems are a disruption to the normal sleep cycle, a change in the rate at which a wound or bruising heals, mood changes and an increase in body weight. Remember, there’s always the risk a prior infection may reoccur once your immune system is affected. The more serious effects come over time and, if any affect you, treat this as an emergency and go to a hospital. The first signs are usually psychological with a sudden onset of depression or confusion. Blood pressure can rise suddenly leading to an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and increasing weakness.

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