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Monday, April 6, 2009

Prednisone Frequently Asked Questions

The most important information you need to know about prednisone.

What is prednisone?

Prednisone is a coticosteroid drug. It closely resembles a substance made by the adrenal glands. Steroids made by the human body work to reduce inflammation and to regulate the intake of salt. More steroids are produced by the body when it is stressed, such as with an illness.

How is prednisone taken?

Prednisone should be taken exactly as prescribed by the doctor. A physical will tailor the dosage to the needs of each individual patient. In order for prednisone to have the desired effect on the body, it must be taken at certain regular intervals. DO NOT stop taking prednisone suddenly. Prednisone is a drug that must be tapered slowly.

It is best to take prednisone with a meal or a snack to avoid stomach upset.

Why is prednisone prescribed?

Prednisone may be prescribed for many conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If your next dose should be taken soon, just take that dose. Don't double up, or take more than one dose at a time.

Who should not take prednisone?

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any of the following conditions:

  • Tuberculosis (active or inactive)
  • Herpes infection of eyes, lips, or genitals
  • Severe depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Currently pregnant

What are the side effects?

Other side effects can include increased appetite, weight gain, hair growth, acne, mood changes and difficulty sleeping. See the prednisone side effects page for a complete list.

Serious side effects of prednisone include cataracts, glaucoma, osteoporosis, and bone damage in hips. These side effects are permanent and occur only after long-term use.

What medications can prednisone interact with?

Prednisone may interact with the following medications:

  • Anticoagulants
  • Barbiturates
  • Cholestyramine (Questran)
  • Chronic high dose aspirin
  • Ephedrine (found in cold medications)
  • Ketoconazole
  • Phenobarbital
  • Phenytoin
  • Rifampin
  • Troleandomycin

Is prednisone safe during pregnancy?

The FDA has classified prednisone as a type C drug. This means that it is not known what effect pregnancy will have on an unborn baby. Notify the prescribing doctor if you become pregnant while taking prednisone. Prednisone does pass into breast milk, and could affect a nursing infant.

How long can prednisone be taken safely?

In most cases, it is advisable to taper off prednisone as soon as symptoms subside.

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